Putting Research into Use: A Market Failure Approach


An important set of issues concerns how best to connect scientific research carried out in rich country institutions (and usually funded by donors) with technology development aid to poor countries. This is so especially in relation to aid targeted at the rural poor. Very often considerable sums of money are spent but impact on welfare is hard to demonstrate. This paper suggests way of thinking about this issue analytically in terms of a “market for knowledge” and how such a market is failing to allocate resources optimally.

Often ‘knowledge’ is largely supply driven and bears no direct relationship to development problems. This short paper explores this issue from the standpoint of rural technology development in African less developed countries. It begins by setting out the market failure issue in general terms providing a brief historical backdrop and setting out why this appears to be a structural problem involving considerable economic costs. It then goes on to illustrate an alternative model using four case studies of technology development.


RIU Discussion Paper 4, 16 pp.

Putting Research into Use: A Market Failure Approach

Published 1 January 2010