Strategic Approaches to Science and Technology in Development

62 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: April 11, 2003


Watson, Crawford, and Farley examine the ways in which science and technology (S&T) support poverty alleviation and economic development and how these themes have been given emphasis or short shrift in various areas of the World Bank's work. Central to their thesis is the now well-established argument that development will increasingly depend on a country's ability to understand, interpret, select, adapt, use, transmit, diffuse, produce, and commercialize scientific and technological knowledge in ways appropriate to its culture, aspirations, and level of development. The authors go beyond this tenet, analyzing the importance of S&T for development within specific sectors. They present policy options for enhancing the effectiveness of S&T systems in developing countries, review previous experience of the World Bank and other donors in supporting S&T, and suggest changes that the World Bank and its partners can adopt to increase the impact of the work currently undertaken in S&T. The authors' main messages are:

- S&T has always been important for development, but the unprecedented pace of advancement of scientific knowledge is rapidly creating new opportunities for and threats to development.

- Most developing countries are largely unprepared to deal with the changes that S&T advancement will bring.

- The World Bank's numerous actions in various domains of S&T could be more effective in producing the needed capacity improvements in client countries.

- The World Bank could have a greater impact if it paid increased attention to S&T in education, health, rural development, private sector development, and the environment.

The strategy emphasizes four S&T policy areas: education and human resources development, the private sector, the public sector, and information communications technologies.

The paper - a joint product of the Education Team, Human Development Network, and the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Vice Presidency - is part of a larger effort in the Bank to engage client countries in an active science and technology dialogue while increasing awareness of the centrality of these issues to the Bank's work.

Suggested Citation

Watson, Robert and Crawford, Michael and Farley, Sara, Strategic Approaches to Science and Technology in Development (April 11, 2003). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3026. Available at SSRN:

Robert Watson (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Michael Crawford

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Sara Farley

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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