I have structured my publications under the following four headings:

Books I have contributed to
Reports and publications resulting from my fieldwork

Books I have published

The Fundamentals of Innovation System Promotion for Development Practitioners


This book introduces the fundamental principles of understanding, diagnosing and improving innovation systems. The book is not about innovation within a business as such, but is about the innovation system around firms, within regions or between industry sectors. The technological progress of a society or a specific industry is very dependent on knowledge and learning. The fact that economies grow through a process of specialization is an old idea. What many people fail to grasp is that this knowledge intensity is directly related to the emergence of a whole range of knowledge providers, knowledge carriers and knowledge-intensive business services. Education, research institutions, private skills provision and relevant public institutions all influence the knowledge that is available to a society. This means that traditional extension services are no longer sufficient; a whole range of knowledge channels must be developed to support the technological evolution of a given economic system
The e-book can be downloaded here (free), while the printed copy can be ordered online from our Lulu Bookstore here.

Understanding Market Failures in an Economic Development Context

This is my first book that I wrote based on my PhD thesis. It is about market failures.

The cover page illustration of the hard copy is by Lina Stamer and is an image that I use when I present the popular training session on how to address market failure in a practical way.

The book is available for free as an E-book, or a paperback edition can be ordered here. More books are available on the Mesopartner online bookstore.

The official description of this publication is:

Many development practitioners are familiar with the phrase “market failure”. However, not many people relate to the topic in a practical sense. Many remember boring lectures in universities where market failures were presented as abstract theoretical concepts in economics 101. In this book, Dr. Shawn Cunningham takes a perspective that the clues to begin to address market failures are in the world around us. He argues that the characteristics attributed to each market failure by clever scholars actually provide some clues to development practitioners about ways in which to address the imperfections that hinder market-based transactions. Shawn also argues that market failures cannot be addressed by business management principles, and that typical market research instruments will provide little information on how to make a market system where there is demand, supply and supporting institutions work better

Reducing Red Tape

This book is a collaboration between Mattia Wegmann and myself. It is based on our practical experiences gained in assisting local stakeholders to identify and address Red Tape. It consolidates our work on Reducing Red Tape in the context of Local Economic Development. The book is available as a printable e-book for free, or you can order it in an A4 Paperback format (printing and shipping costs apply) from the Mesopartner Bookstore.

The official description of the book is:

Increasingly governments and international organizations are attempting to reduce bureaucracy and red tape. While many of these reforms are aimed at national laws and reducing the costs of compliance, not much guidance is available on how local stakeholders can identify and attempt to streamline red tape at a local level.

In this publication, Shawn Cunningham and Mattia Wegmann share their practical experience in reducing red tape at a local level. The manual is aimed at local economic development facilitators that are working on improving the cooperation between public and private stakeholders.

Books I have contributed to

Many of the books that I have contributed to are available on the Mesopartner Bookstore

Milestones in a process of innovation, change and development

This book was a collaboration with my Mesopartner business partners and several leading academics.

This anthology brings together a large variety of articles and comments by development scholars and practitioners from all over the world. The opening article and pivot is a reprint of an influential publication on systemic competitiveness. Based on this concept, the authors are taking a look back and also ahead at various topics related to territorial development, value chain and cluster promotion, innovation and change. The reader will get a deep insight into the academic work and professional personality of Dr. Jörg Meyer-Stamer. At the same time, it’s a gift for his 50th birthday. Dr. Jörg-Meyer Stamer is a pioneer in local economic development. As a researcher at the German Development Institute he co-authored the concept of systemic competitiveness and published numerous monographs and articles in academic journals. This book is an invitation to new debates in the development community.

The paperback can be ordered on our Mesopartner bookstore here.


Reports or publications resulting from my fieldwork

I am constantly publishing reports and will only highlight some selected documents here that are frequently referred to or cited. Please contact me if you are looking for something specific or want a complete list of publications I have contributed to.
2021;2019;2018;2017; 2016;2015; 2014; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; older;


S. CUNNINGHAM. Technological Change and the DTIC: Innovation in Industry. Policy Brief. Technological Change and Innovation Systems Observatory. Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), Pretoria. DOWNLOAD THE POLICY BRIEF


JENAL, M. and CUNNINGHAM, S. 2019. Disruptive Technologies for Private Sector Development in the DRC. Oxford, UK: Oxford Policy Management on behalf of the Decision Support Unit (DSU).   

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2019.  Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution a Paradigm Shift? Helvetas Mosaic.  Scholl, M. (Ed.). Helvetas. Bern. [Web]


TIPS. 2018. Framing the concepts that underpin discontinuous technological change, technological capability and absorptive capacity. Unpublished. Eds, Levin, Saul and Cunningham, Shawn.  1/4, Pretoria: Trade and Industry Policy Strategy (TIPS) and behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2018. Mapping the meso space that enables technological change, productivity improvement and innovation in the manufacturing sector.  Paper 3 of 4, Pretoria: Trade and Industry Policy Strategy (TIPS) and behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2018. WEF and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa.  Paper 2 of 4, Pretoria: Trade and Industry Policy Strategy (TIPS) and behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2018.  Innovation as culture rather than as a technique or function. Magazine Article.    Thought Thursdays. Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Education.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2018.  The difference between the terms Fourth Industrial Revolution and Industrie 4.0 matters. Magazine Article.    Railways Africa. Johannesburg: Rail-link Communications cc.


WAELTRING, F. & CUNNINGHAM, S. 2017. Knowledge, Technologies and Innovation for Development in the Agenda 2030: Revisiting Germany’s Contribution. Bremen: Paper commissioned by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). Wirtschaft und Beschäftigung. Eschborn; Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ). Bonn; Mesopartner. Bremen. Discussion paper


CUNNINGHAM, S. & JENAL, M. 2016. Rethinking systemic change: Economic evolution and institutions. Technical Paper. London: The BEAM Exchange.

CUNNINGHAM, S. & JENAL, M. 2016. Rethinking systemic change: Economic evolution and institutions. Discussion Paper. London: The BEAM Exchange.


CUNNINGHAM, S. & WAELTRING, F. 2015. Innovation Systems in Metropolitan Regions of Developing Countries: Challenges, Opportunities and Entry Points. Discussion Paper. Bonn and Eschborn, Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. [Web]

JENAL, M. & CUNNINGHAM, S. 2015a.  Economic development: introducing options, not bringing solutions. Institute for Development Studies Opinion.  Wach, E. & Thorpe, J. (Eds.). Institute for Development Studies (IDS). Sussex, UK. [Web]

JENAL, M. & CUNNINGHAM, S. 2015b.  Explore, scale up, move out – Three phases to managing change under conditions of uncertainty. IDS Bulletin, Vol. 26(3) Business, State and Society: Changing Perspectives, Roles and Approaches pp: 81-92.

CUNNINGHAM, S., WILLIAMS, G. & DE BEER, D. 2014. Advanced Manufacturing and Jobs in South Africa: An Examination of Perceptions and Trends. Conference Proceedings.   International Conference on Manufacturing-Led Growth for Employment and Equality. Johannesburg: DST and Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS).

JENAL, M. & CUNNINGHAM, S. 2014. Gaining systemic insight to strengthen economic development initiatives. Drawing on systems thinking and complexity theories to improve developmental impact. Mesopartner Working Paper 16: Mesopartner.

KRIEG, M. & CUNNINGHAM, S. 2014. Opportunities for the South African foundry industry in the global automotive supply chain. In Möller, H. & Curle, U.A.Conference Proceedings.   AMI Light Metals 2014 Conference. Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa: Advanced Materials Research.


CUNNINGHAM, S. & JENAL, M. 2013. Gaining Systemic Insight. Concept paper. Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2013a. Comparing the priorities of private sector localisation with public sector localisation. In Localisation for Africa. [Web] [Date of access].

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2013b. Diagnosing Innovation Systems: RALIS field guide for practitioners. Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2013c. Insights from connecting foundries to markets and buyers. Metal Casting Conference, Kwa Maritane, South Africa.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2013d. Using Social Network Analysis methods to assess the valve manufacturing sector in South Africa. VUT.


CUNNINGHAM, S. 2012a. The fundamentals of innovation system promotion for development practitioners. Leveraging a bottom-up understanding for better systemic interventions in innovation systems. Mesopartner Monograph 5. Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2012b. Guidelines to strengthen Customs to Business dialogue in SADC Member States. Gaborone: Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2012c. Private Sector Involvement Strategy for the SADC Customs Programme. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2012e. Stimulating Innovation Systems by moving from innovation to innovation systems. The Innovation Journal of the Management Today Magazine, Vol. 30, Issue 8 – 2012 Pp: 22-25.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2012f. Using Local Demand to Stimulate Innovation. Magazine Article.   Localisation for Africa. Johannesburg: On the Wire Media.


CUNNINGHAM, S. 2011a. Putting the Electrotechnical Sector on the South African radar screen. Johannesburg: South African Electrotechnical Support Council (SAEEC).

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2011b. Understanding market failures in an economic development context. Mesopartner Monograph 4. Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S., DE BEER, D. & JOOSTE, J., H. 2011. Appraisal of the innovation system in the manufacturing sector in the Vaal region Pretoria: Vaal University of Technology, GIZ and Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S. & EL MOHAMADI, A. 2011. Opportunities and challenges for technology transfer intermediaries to move beyond firm level to innovation system level interventions. Pretoria: Mesopartner and the National Foundry Technology Network. Available  here


CUNNINGHAM, S. & EL MOHAMADI, A. 2010. Improving the performance of sectoral innovation systems in South Africa through Technology Stations located at Universities. Reflections on the role and potential of the Tshumisano Technology Stations Programme., Pretoria: GTZ ESDS.

CUNNINGHAM, S., JACOBS, S.J. & VORSTER, K. 2010. An appraisal of the role and potential of the Technology Station in Electronics at TUT in the electronics innovation system. Pretoria: Technology Station in Electronics. TSE RALIS Report

CUNNINGHAM, S. & WÄLTRING, F. 2010. Improving the innovation systems surrounding value chains. Eschborn: GTZ Sector Project Innovative Approaches for Private Sector Development and the Working Group on Innovation System Promotion


CUNNINGHAM, S. 2009a. An appraisal of the role and potential of the TUT Technology Station in Chemicals in the innovation system. Pretoria: GTZ, Tshumisano and the Tshwane University of Technology.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2009b. Learning from RALIS, experiences from local, sectoral and territorial perspectives. Conference Proceedings.   Strengthening Innovation Systems in the context of development cooperation. Dortmund, Germany: GTZ

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2009c. Proposing a classification scheme that offers insight into the readiness of science and technology institutions to build closer relationships with industry. Gabarone: GFA and the Governance- & Reform Programme: Strengthening of the SADC Secretariat.

CUNNINGHAM, S. 2009d. The role of market failure in the utilisation of Quality Management services by the tooling industry. Ph.D Thesis, North West University,


CUNNINGHAM, S. & MEYER-STAMER, J. 2005.   Planning or doing LED? Africa Insight, Vol 35(1).

CUNNINGHAM, S. & MEYER-STAMER, J. 2007. Identifying Opportunities in the Downstream Chemicals Industry. Report based on the RALIS Exercise at the InnoVenton / Downstream Chemicals Pretoria: Innoventon and Tshumisano.

CUNNINGHAM, S. & MEYER-STAMER, J. 2008a. Development of a cooperation framework between industry and science and technology centers in the SADC region. Discussion paper. Pretoria and Duisburg: SADC, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH and Mesopartner.

CUNNINGHAM, S. & LAWSON, J. 2009a. Institute for Advanced Tooling: Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems (RALIS). Pretoria: GTZ, Tshumisano Trust, Tooling Association of South Africa and the National Tooling Initiative.

CUNNINGHAM, S. & LAWSON, J. 2009b. Product Development Technology Station – Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems. Pretoria: GTZ, Tshumisano and the Central University of Technology

CUNNINGHAM, S. & MEYER-STAMER, J. 2008b. Report on the RALIS Exercise in the Foundry Industry. Pretoria: GTZ ESDS, Tshumisano and University of Johannesburg.

CUNNINGHAM, S., SCHOEN, C. & GODDEN, Z. 2010. Revisiting the Hexagon of LED as a framework to strengthen LED initiatives. Pretoria: Mesopartner.


2011. Learning from RALIS, experiences from local, sectoral and territorial perspectives. This is a presentation that I make regularly in different countries to explain the Mesopartner approach to business-centric innovation systems.Presentation in PDF

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