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Paper 17: Role of Government in Energizing Grassroots Innovations

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There are at least four keywords in this description of grassroots innovation, i.e. (1) bottom-up solutions, (2) sustainable development, (3) local situation, and (4) interests and values of the communities involved. Grassroots innovation emerges in response to local problems or based on local needs. These problems tend to be very specific and local resources available for solving these problems might also be different with other locations. Consequently, there might be limit for implementation of grassroots innovation. Copying a successful grassroots innovation at one location to other locations should be cautiously done. Socio-economical complexity should be taken into account.

There may be dilemma, however, for government intervention. If government too-dominantly intervenes on grassroots innovation processes, then characteristics of the grassroots innovation might be diluted, including its objective may be drifted away from social economic context, voluntary community participation may decline, and dependency on government will increase. On the other hand, if government does not support this innovation, the progresses might be slow and the impact might be limited or insignificant.

However, grassroots innovation has to be energized and government is expected to optimize its role in this effort. As a pre-requisite, policy makers have to comprehensively comprehend nature of grassroots innovation and specific characteristics of this bottom-up innovation should also be recognized. Government should appreciate local community initiatives in creating this innovation and should nurture this activity with appropriate policies and regulations.

Considering high natural and human resources diversity in Indonesia, it is almost impossible to adopt a specific grassroots innovation for being implemented at national level. Grassroots innovation should be tailored for each and every location. Even though, there might be some similarities among locations. Role of local government, at regency level, become very strategic for supporting grassroots innovation. Therefore, recent initiative of Ministry of Home Affairs to strengthen R&D Agency at local government is an appropriate decision. Hopefully, this scenario will include nurturing grassroots innovation at each regency.

Full paper can be downloaded here


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