Organised Labour and the National System of Innovation in South Africa

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IERI Working paper WP2019-006
Mario Scerri

This paper looks at the relationship between organised labour, the state and private enterprises within the context of the governance of the national system of innovation. In general, from the triple-helix model organised labour may be seen as the missing link, mostly due to its perceived and often actual adversarial relationship with private enterprise and with the state. The paper examines this relationship in the case of South Africa since the advent of democracy and argues that the adversarial relationship, which was implicitly assumed and rapidly became fact, has led to an exclusion of organised labour from the planning of the evolutionary course of the national system of innovation. This exclusion is evidently total from the perspective of the narrow version of the system of innovation, in terms of STI planning. It is also largely absent from the planning of the broader version of the national system of innovation, in terms of national economic, education and social planning. This exclusion persists in spite of a formal institutional space, created at the dawn of democracy for the collaboration of the state, organised labour and the private sector in national planning. It also endures despite the formidable power of organised labour in South Africa.

Keywords: organised labour; South African national system of innovation; triple-helix model

JEL: J08; O38

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