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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353

S. Afr. j. sci. vol.103 n.1-2 Pretoria Jan./Feb. 2007




Internationalization of R&D: Where does South Africa stand?



Michael Kahn

Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council, Private Bag X9182, Cape Town 8000, South Africa. E-mail:




Internationalization of trade has extended to services and intangibles such as research and experimental development (R&D). The emergence of knowledge economies with porous borders raises questions concerning the preparedness of countries to manage their systems of innovation in response to these changes. This article draws on the recently completed 2004/5 R&D survey, and other local and international data sources to consider the extent to which South African R&D is positioned to respond to the challenge of the internationalization of R&D. This entails looking at the behaviour of the main role players in the system of innovation, the extent to which they are open to local and global interactions, competitive advantage, and the implications for policy. The evidence suggests that, from an R&D perspective, the emerging South African knowledge economy is still more 'closed' than 'open'. Actions that may contribute to attracting international R&D investment and collaboration include development of skilled people and the further enhancement of direct and indirect R&D incentives.



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