Technology, Growth and Development

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  • With the Technology, Growth and Development Programe, the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) addresses the relationships between technological change, productivity, economic growth, and socio-economic development at the macro level. The programme focuses on a range of questions with respect to the impact of innovation and technological change on productivity, growth, employment, human capital, inequality, poverty, sustainability, and socio-economic development. These questions are studied in an international comparative perspective including advanced economies in Europe and elsewhere, developing economies, and economies in transition.

    The research programme entails two types of research activity: the theoretical modelling of the sources and mechanisms of economic growth and development, and the role of technology and human capital in generating socially and environmentally sustainable growth. Such research models can be used for the identification of policy options, policy constraints, and ultimately for the design of economic policy. They can also be used for empirical measurement and analysis in order to identify and quantify important sources of growth, as well as obstacles and bottlenecks in growth and development.


    Within this programme, twinning with the Senegalese Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale (CRES) is actively pursued. The Senegal twinning option will involve the formal creation of a UNU institute involved in research activities closely connected to the topics at the centre of the technology, growth and development research programme. Depending on the outcome of ongoing discussions regarding the design of a number of common research projects, a new UNU institute in Dakar might be created over the next two years. UNU-MERIT will actively assist in this process and a senior staff member, Professor Dr. Theophile Azomahou, will be dispatched to Dakar and assist directly in the setting up of the institute, in particular with regards to the academic content part of the research. Furthermore every year, one or two PhD fellows working in the research area of this programme at CRES in Dakar will be selected to come to Maastricht and follow the PhD programme at UNU-MERIT. After their course work, they will return to Dakar to pursue their PhD. In short, this programme will gradually expand to include the close interaction with the twinning partner in Senegal.

    Focal Point

    Professor Dr. Adam Szirmai is the focal poinjt for the Technology, Growth and Development Programme.


    Three sub-themes fall under this programme:

    1. Drivers and mechanisms of technological change and their contribution to growth and development (the impact of demand factors on growth and technological change; the role of infrastructure in growth resource availability; education and human capital and their contribution to growth and development; health status as an aspect of human capital, with special reference to development aid, health and development; social capital, innovation and economic development; international division of labour, trade, development and welfare.
    2. Technological change, productivity and growth in economic sectors and their contributions to aggregate growth performance (the changing structure of global manufacturing: nations and sectors in the context of world manufacturing; technological change and productivity growth; structural change and economic development; measurement of divergence, convergence and catch up; measurement of embodied and disembodied technological change).
    3. Growth, equity and sustainable development (sector structure, technology selection and environmental sustainability; transitions between general purpose technologies and their implications for environmental sustainability; a portfolio approach to production and trade diversity and the timing of policies to reduce vulnerability to external shocks and enhance sustainability).

    Particular attention is paid to the macro-economic implications of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


    Research within this theme focuses on a range of questions with respect to the impact of innovation and technological change on productivity, growth, employment, skills and human capital, inequality, poverty and sustainable development. These questions are studied in an international comparative perspective including least developed countries, emerging economies, economies in transition as well as advanced economies. Over the years to come, the analysis of growth and development will be further enlarged to include aspects of health and education and other MDG areas.


    No gender issues are currently studied within this programme, however, in the future and as part of the MDGs, gender aspects will be integrated.

    Target Audience

    The audience consists of international agencies such as the World Bank, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the EC, as well as applied academics.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Contribution to a UN assessment/issue/query
    Target: The programme seeks to contribute to the impact of achieving the MDGs on economic growth and human development.
    How: This will be achieved through academic reports, publications in journals and other public dissemination methods (website, interviews or op-ed pieces in newspapers).

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the international level
    Target: The programme targets international civil servants and national policymakers participating in international conferences.
    How: This will be achieved through joint conferences with other international organizations — e.g., Pathways Conference with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and AFD. Policy reports, publications, conferences.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: The programme targets policymakers in developing countries.
    How: This will be achieved through Pathways conferences with UNIDO, the GLOBELICS Conference in Argentina, and others including twinning partners in Senegal and China.

    Impact: Supporting academic communities
    Target: The programme seeks to make a new contribution to the role of technology in growth and human development.
    How: This will be achieved through academic publications.

    Research Findings

    Please consult the list of research findings available on UNU-MERIT’s corresponding page.

    Policy Bridging

    The policy bridging of the research covered under this programme includes all policy-related national ministries and international organizations dealing with the following issues, listed here as core keywords with the possible relevant national policymaking ministries: technology, productivity and growth (national ministries of economic affairs, of industry, of science & technology); human capital and growth (national ministries of education, training, lifelong learning); sectoral growth performance (national ministries of oil, industry, agriculture, services); wages, skills and employment (national ministries of employment, national councils on wage negotiations and settlements); income distribution and equity (trade unions, employers associations, national ministries of finance, taxation offices); health and growth (national ministries of health); sustainable development (national ministries of environment). In short, policy bridging is a key feature of this programme covering most areas of national and international policymaking. More specifically in relation to international issues, achieving the MDGs is the central policy preoccupation of this programme.

    Value Added

    The programme provides overall support to policymakers at the level of the UN and other international organizations as well as individual countries.


    Project outcomes are primarily published in journals, research memoranda and policy briefs. Furthermore, UNU-MERITs website and annual report contain a list of all publications and other relevant output for this programme.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    The programme has been running since the beginning of 2006 and will continue through the biennium (2012-2013).


    External evaluation is regularly carried out. Assessment of progress is based on success in publications.


    The coming biennium will be strongly influenced by the success in attracting new funds.

    Expected Duration

    The programme is expected to run for a duration of 120 months, from 1 January 2006 through 31 December 2015.

  • Activities within the Programme will involve cooperation between UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) and the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER).

  • United Nations University
    Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology
    Keizer Karelplein 19, 6211 TC Maastricht
    The Netherlands

    T: +31 43 388-4400
    F: + 31 43 388-4499