Work & Experience


Raphie Kaplinsky “grew up” at the IDS (Institute of Development Studies), after he arrived from South Africa in 1969. At various stages he coordinated the Industrialisation and Globalisation teams, directed three cohorts of the MPhil Programme and played a central role in helping to define and implement the strategic direction of the IDS. In 2006 he moved to the Open University, assisting the development group there to define its research agenda, and in 2015 returned to the IDS where he is now an Emeritus Fellow.


Engaging with African Policy Makers

Amongst other engagements, Raphie Kaplinsky:

Participated in the World Economic Forum’s Metal and Metals industry Partners Strategy Meeting in November 2011

Presented to various meetings on industry and policy stakeholders organised by the Common Fund for Commodities and UNCTAD 2010 and 2011

Presented to various meetings with Ministers of Industry at UNIDO.

Addressed the African Chief Executives Forum on the role which benchmarking can play in supply chain development.

Together with Esko Aho (former Prime Minister of Finland, and subsequently CEO of Nokia) was the keynote speakers at the opening of the 11th Annual Conference of the Global Competitiveness Institute and was on the Closing Panel of Speakers. His presentation addressed the impact of China on Africa’s development strategies.

Presentations to various meetings organised by the World Bank and ILO on Global Value Chains and the Impact of China on SSA.


Research interests

Raphael is the author of numerous books on technology, industrialisation, and globalisation. These  include studies on globalisation, industrial policy, industrial organisation, global value chains, the international automobile sector, computer-integrated automation, computer aided design, the impact of microelectronics on employment, appropriate technology and on the resource sector. During the 1990s he pioneered research on changing patterns of organisation in manufacturing in developing countries and on global value chains. In 2005 he published a widely-cited book on globalisation, utilising micro-, meso- and macro-data to examine the generalised consequence of upgrading in the global economy (Globalization, Poverty and Inequality). More recently he has researched the impact of China and India (“The Asian Driver” economies) on Africa, and the implications of their growth for the global commodities sector (The Impact of China on Global Commodities, 2012). His current research is focused on the contribution of Emerging Economy innovation on pro-poor innovation and growth strategies in low income economies. During the course of this research he has over the years worked with enterprises, government-departments and other organisations in Japan, the USA, Western and Eastern Europe, Central America, Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Central Asia.


Operational experience

Raphael Kaplinsky has participated in numerous UN and EU Missions, providing advice to a large range of countries, particularly on industrial and technology policies. He has led teams of advisers in Central America, Cyprus, South Africa and Kazakhstan and has participated as an adviser in a number of other countries. Between 1991 and 2003 he worked intensively with the South African government on Industrial Policy, and has been deeply involved in the development of industrial strategy in the post-Apartheid era. He has also provided advice on strategic focus and on manufacturing organisation to transnational firms, and to firms in the UK, Africa, Brazil, Central Asia, Central America and India. In the mid-1990s he worked with the European Commission on a programme of assistance to encourage organisational restructuring in European manufacturing and services. More recently, he has worked with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on policies towards the resource sector.


Research management

Between 1998 and 2003 Raphael was the research manager of an integrated and globally networked programme of research on Globalisation and Value Chains undertaken by the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in cooperation with a range of global partners drawn from academia, the corporate sector, the multilateral agencies and civil-society. In 2005 he initiated a similar globally-networked research programme on the impact of dynamic Asian economies on the developing world (The Asian Drivers Programme), and has particular responsibility for the programme’s work on Sub-Saharan Africa. As part of this he worked closely with the African Economic Research Consortium’s 20 country Asian Driver Research Programme. More recently he has co-directed a research programme with the University of Cape Town on linkages form the commodities sectors in Africa.