ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Need for an Innovation Survey in India

Mainstream measures of innovation at both the macro and micro levels, measure only a part and not the full extent of innovation that occurs in India, and, by and large, ignore the emerging innovation activities occurring in the service and informal sectors. There is a need for evidence of other forms of innovation to complement these measures to accurately present a holistic picture of innovations in developing countries like India.

By and large, mainstream measures of innovation, at both the macro and micro levels, measure only a part and not the full extent of innovation that occurs in India. We argue for evidence of other forms of innovation to complement these measures to accurately present a holistic picture of innovations in developing countries like India. Departing from the neo-classical notion of innovation as “manna from heaven,” new approaches towards innovation studies view innovation as an incremental, cumulative and a socially embedded process (Lundvall 1992; Joseph and Kakarlapudi 2014). Existing Science and Technology (S&T) policies in India have emphasised the need for research and development (R&D) activities as the main driver of innovation activities. However, evidences from Community Innovation Surveys (CIS) largely conducted for European and African countries show that much of these innovative firms are not really involved in in-house or contracted R&D activities (Gault 2016). This article is based on three important elements of innovation. First, we argue that traditional metrics view innovation output and input measurement proxies through a formal lens. For example, scientific journals and R&D personnel are used to gauge innovation. Since much of the innovation processes in India occur through informal channels in both the formal and informal sectors, a significant portion of India’s innovation inputs and outputs measurements are immediately out the radar of conventional measurement approaches. Second, traditional approaches and conventional metrics are mainly concerned with the commercial elements of innovation, for example, patents and royalty payments, R&D intensity and so on. Therefore, they ignore the set of innovation activities that happen in the informal and formal sectors as well. Third, the case with macro-level studies, such as aggregation metrics, means that macro indicators miss out on details on the micro-level measurements such as measuring intangibles or human-related variables, for example, in developing countries, where an essential element of knowledge and innovation is tacit and verbal. Micro-level studies, including case studies, firm-level studies or sector-specific analysis can present a more accurate picture of the ground reality.

Existing studies on innovation development in the Indian context largely focus on certain sub-sectors in manufacturing such as pharmaceuticals, telecommunication, aerospace and so on (Mani 2009; Bhaduri and Ray 2004), and by and large, ignore the emerging innovation activities occurring in the service and informal sectors. Given the relevance of these sectors in the national economy, in terms of their contribution towards the gross domestic product (GDP), employment, and export earnings, prevalent definitions used by the S&T policies should be redefined in such a way that it can be applied to these segments. Furthermore, in India, non-technological innovations, which are organisational and marketing in nature, have traditionally received scant attention (Tyabji 2018). This may be due to the general bias towards technological components of innovation as highlighted by earlier research and S&T policies. Recognising the importance of the above arguments, we understand that existing innovation surveys in India do not adequately address the need of emerging innovation activities, which are beyond the purview of conventional innovation indicators, in any manner.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 20th Sep, 2019

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top