Innovation and Local Economic Development Policy in the global South: New South African perspectives

Lindile L. Ndabeni, Christian M. Rogerson, Irma Booyens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, innovation has become a critical parameter for contemporary regional and local development policy in the global North. In South African debates about regional and local development policy issues of innovation rarely are discussed and the country’s most recent policy documents and frameworks around local economic development (LED) make no mention or acknowledgement of issues around innovation. This disconnect between South Africa’s national innovation policies and those around regional and local development planning is under review as the country’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) with responsibility for innovation policy in the country, released a new strategy document intended to inform the DST’s involvement in the policy space of LED with the mandate of strengthening local systems of innovation and production in a systemic and systematic manner. It is argued that in terms of LED policy and practice across the global South this South African policy document represents a potential benchmark policy intervention which merits scrutiny and discussion. The aim is to examine the shift in national policy thinking towards the use and role of innovation for driving economic and social change in the marginalised spaces of South Africa. Against a background of debates around national, regional and local systems of innovation in the global South and of the emergence of new perspectives around the potential of innovation to contribute to poverty reduction, job creation and LED a critical review is provided of new policy directions and strategic proposals for the application of innovation to drive economic and social change in South Africa’s marginalised spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-311
Number of pages13
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • South Africa
  • innovation
  • innovation policy
  • local economic development
  • marginalised areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)


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