The meaning of the term innovation has transformed and is now tightly linked to sustainable development goals including climate change, social sustainability and food security. This calls for innovations that go beyond transferring technical solutions as it becomes necessary to understand how innovations impact societies, communities and households. Important factors are organizational and cultural dimensions associated with innovation adoption and diffusion.
The research context of the Global South demands and offers additional perspectives to the study of innovation. Much of what we know, about how innovation processes work, initially came from research carried out in the context of the Global North, and focused especially on new technology and product development.
Experiences in the Global South, around food production in Africa for example, make it clear that technical solutions on their own are insufficient. Previous research from development studies and science and technology studies shows that technologies are not neutral artifacts, but that they carry with them the DNA of the context in which they were created. The adoption of a new technology is therefore a process that requires at least as much innovation and creativity as the initial act of innovation that led to the technology.
Re-embedding or re-contextualizing a technology to a new set of social, industrial and political circumstances is important knowledge work. Old and new topics must urgently be (re-)considered in order to make innovation useful for achieving sustainable development goals in the Global South.
Questions that are addressed:
- What is Innovation in the Global South?
- How does knowledge circulate?
- What factors mediate innovation Adoption?
- How does innovation lead to societal outcomes?
- Who participates in innovation?
These topics are complex and multi-faceted and must be approached from a multi-disciplinary perspective drawing on expertise across the University.
Activities for 2021 include drafting a plan for a future research program and project applications, as well as workshops to form and frame the community of interested participants in- and outside of Lund University.