Global excellence at the expense of local relevance, or a bridge between two worlds? Research in science and technology in the developing world

Helena Barnard, Robin Cowan & Moritz Müller


Do world-leading researchers from developing countries contribute to upgrading locally, or do they disengage from the local context? The paper investigates the scientific collaborations of university-based science and technology researchers in the database of the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), and analyses the co-authorships of researchers who were ranked by the NRF during the 2001 to 2007 period. To establish the extent to which a researcher can access knowledge outside the South African academic science and technology research community, and share it inside that community, we develop a measure of 'gatekeeping'. The evidence suggests that there is not a local/global trade-off in knowledge creation in academia in the developing world, and that the world-leading researchers in developing countries may play an especially important role as conduits of new knowledge in their country.

Keywords: Science and technology, research, upgrading, developing country, collaboration


Download the working paper