Connecting capabilities in highly unequal developing countries: the case of the Square Kilometre Array telescope in South Africa

SOURCE: Development Southern Africa
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Gastrow, G.Kruss, I.Petersen
KEYWORDS: INNOVATION, SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY (SKA)
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9024

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Abstract

Innovation and skills development require interactive capabilities to function effectively. Interactive capabilities mediate between skills supply and skills demand actors in an innovation system, and in the knowledge economy more broadly. This article investigates such interactive capabilities, and the manner in which they facilitate labour market alignment. Within a case-study focus on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope in South Africa, we investigate how organisational capabilities, structures, and mechanisms facilitate or constrain interaction between the SKA and its network partners, including universities, firms, intermediaries, and a technical college. This illustrates how pockets of excellence within an unequal South African skills and innovation landscape were effectively connected in order to build a critical mass of skills and technologies that were highly competitive on the international stage. This shows how, in highly unequal developing countries, interactive capabilities form a lever for access to the global science and technology frontier.