3. Economic Development, Innovation, Governance and Institutions


Neil Foster-McGregor
Eleonora Nillesen

The unequal development levels observed in the global economy are one of the most pressing problems in today’s world. UNU-MERIT’s research in this area focuses on the role of innovation, institutions and governance mechanisms in explaining differences in development, and the way in which these differences evolve. Research in this area aims to identify the factors behind long-run growth trends and behind the structural changes that are an intrinsic part of the development process, to quantify their impact, and to bring these factors together in coherent theoretical frameworks that may contribute to development policies. Globalisation, including the role of multinational companies and regional economic integration, is an important defining context for much of the research in this area.

The research tradition at UNU-MERIT in this area is one that makes use of diverse frameworks and approaches, such as (‘new’) growth theory, with its emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge as a driver of long-run growth, evolutionary economics, which emphasises the role of path dependence and structural change, and neo-institutional economics, leading to an emphasis on the variety of institutional features and processes that may support the development process. The focus on governance entails theories and practices of governing and social coordination.

Apart from providing theoretical underpinnings for observed growth and development patterns, an important emphasis in this research theme is on empirical (often econometric) analysis of growth and development data. In many cases, this takes an explicit macroeconomic focus, in line with the attention given to governance processes, institutions and globalisation as a defining force in the development process. It also includes the analysis of the role of governance modes, policy, international technology flows, financial flows and trade flows in the process of catching-up and development.

1. The Economics of Knowledge and Innovation
2. Social Protection, Inclusive Innovation and Development
3. Economic Development, Innovation, Governance and Institutions
4. Sustainable Development, Innovation and Societal Transitions
5. Innovation Systems Indicators and Policy
6. Migration and Development
7. ICT-enabled Innovation and Societal Transformations
8. Population, Development and Labour Economics