Charles Cooper Memorial Lectures

Charles Cooper, founding director of United Nations University - Institute for New Technologies,
Maastricht (1990 to 2000)

charles Cooper

Rob Gonsalves, http://huckleberryfineart.com/Rob-Gonsalves-prints/

Upcoming Lecture

From creative destruction to destructive creation
Prof. Dr. Luc Soete

21 November 2018, 16:00-18:30
Lumière Cinema
Bassin 88
6211 AK Maastricht

More information >>


Charles Cooper

Charles Cooper was the founding director of the Maastricht-based United Nations University Institute for New Technologies, UNU-INTECH (now UNU-MERIT). In 1985 the Dutch Government asked him to prepare a feasibility study on the creation of a UNU Institute to specialize in the social and economic aspects of new technologies. The report was presented to UNU in 1987 and formed the basis for setting up the new Institute in 1990.

At that time he was a professorial fellow at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, having established a worldwide reputation in a long career which began at the OECD in the 1960s. From July 1969 to July 1981 he was based at SPRU and the Institute of Development Studies, both at the University of Sussex in the UK.

Under his leadership from 1990 to 2000, the Institute expanded rapidly to become the second largest UNU research and training centre. One of his flagship achievements was setting up the Institute's unique PhD program in the Economics of Technological change in 1995, in partnership with MERIT (at the University of Maastricht). This sowed the seeds for the integration of the two Institutes a decade later, to form UNU-MERIT.

UNU-MERIT launched the Charles Cooper Memorial Lecture Series in January 2007, to honour his immense contribution to our understanding of the role of technology in economic development, and the pivotal role he played in forging closer ties between UNU-INTECH and MERIT. The lecture series aims to contribute to a better public understanding of science, technology and innovation in the development process.

Charles Cooper and Amilcar Herrera

The Charles Cooper lecture series continues the tradition of the Amilcar Herrera public lectures at the UNU-Institute for New Technologies. They pay tribute to an entire generation of economists who, dissatisfied with the analysis of technology in mainstream economics, began to develop alternative theories on the role played by technology in development.  All contemporaries and close colleagues of Amilcar Herrera, they included Charles Cooper, Christopher Freeman, Francisco Sercovich, Frances Stewart, Constantine Vaitsos, Sanjaya Lall, Linsu Kim, and Miguel Wionczek.

Many of these great thinkers collaborated in the now classic 1973 book: Science, Technology and Development, edited by Charles Cooper, in which Amilcar Herrera contributed a chapter entitled ‘Social Determinants of Science Policy in Latin America: Explicit Science Policy and Implicit Science Policy’. Some of these scholars were also intimately associated with the UNU Research and Training Institute, which Cooper set up in Maastricht in 1990.

Past Lectures

Charles Cooper Lectures
2018, From creative destruction to destructive creation by Luc Soete
2013, Dynamic Capability: The Concept and How It Helps Us Understand Economic Change by Sidney G. Winter
2011, Economic Development As An Evolutionary Process by Richard Nelson
2009, Science and technology in South Africa: Past performance and future prospects by David Kaplan
2008, Playing in invisible markets: Innovating to harness the power of the poor by Shyama V. Ramani
2007, The Challenge of the Asian Drivers: From Industrial to Innovation Policy by Raphie Kaplinsky

Amilcar Herrera Lectures  
2005, Climate Change: A Political Quagmire? by Eugene Skolnikoff
2004, The role of New Technologies in Achieving the UN Millenium Development Goals by M S Swaminathan
2002, Sources of Innovation in Developing Economies: Reflections on the Asian Experience by Nathan Rosenberg,
2001, Technological Revolutions and Opportunities for Development as a Moving Target  by Carlota Perez


"Charles Cooper made an important and early contribution to the debate on the role of science and technology in development at a time when the issues were rather obscure and far removed from mainstream thinking.
I first read his work while I was a student at SPRU. This focus on technology and development is reflected in his later analysis of technological dynamism in the context of a dual economic structure that drew from Arthur Lewis's theoretical formulation. His concern was about how developing countries adjust to the fast changing economic regimes brought about by new technologies. This is not surprising. The whole motivation for setting up the UNU-INTECH was to do precisely this."
Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Professorial Fellow, UNU-MERIT
"In 1973 Charles Cooper edited and wrote the introductory chapter of a book entitled Science, Technology and Development: The Political Economy of Technical Advance in Underdeveloped Countries (Frank Cass). The book contained contributions from distinguished scholars like Amilcar Herrera and
Frances Stewart. This was the first collection of work I had ever come across that analysed issues of development, technological innovation and government policy from a developing country perspective. This book had an enormous impact on young professionals in developing countries - some (like me) were attracted to the field of Science and Technology Policy after reading this book."
Léa Velho, Senior Researcher, UNU-INTECH (2002-2005)
"Charles Cooper was an important development economist specialized in the study of issues related to technology and technical change in developing countries; he was also an institution builder..."
Sunil Mani, Researcher UNU-INTECH (1999-2004)

"My research career owes a lot to Charles Cooper. As I often told him, I seemed to have spent most of my time following in his footsteps as he moved from one research organization to the next..."
Luc Soete, Rector Magnificus of Maastricht University and former Director UNU-MERIT
read full tribute
  UNU-MERIT | webmaster