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Padmashree is a leading expert on trade policy, innovation policy, and economic development. She is also a Visiting Scholar at GDAE Tufts University, an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Aalborg, Denmark and a Professorial Fellow at the United Nations University-MERIT.

Padmashree's research interests focus on the economic and social implications of technology in different contexts. She studies technology and industrialization, technology and inequality, technology, trade and market power, and governance frameworks for technology, innovation and industrialization. At Berkman, her research extends these areas of work to the digital economy, particularly looking at: (a) how changes in the fields of Big Data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things interact with trade and technology policy at the governance levels; and (b) the differential social and economic impacts of digital transition in different regions and communities worldwide. In her recent work, she analyses how questions of data infrastructure, architecture and design impact stewardship and exercise of rights, the persistence of exclusion, and potential governance solutions, looking at industrial policy, intellectual property, technology policy. She is also engaged on issues of drug pricing, digital health and trade barriers for access to medicines with the GAiA program of the Center.

Academic Career

Padmashree’s research has focused on technological change in developing countries, and the role of institutional and other factors (macroeconomic, structural or trade related) that contribute to both successful technological change and technological exclusion. Coming from an inter-disciplinary background with economics, law, trade and technology perspectives, a number of her previous research projects look at these processes in a comparative regional perspective (developing-developed, or African-Asian-Latin American) across several sectors, or on topics of general importance, such as assessing the role of technology in the green economy, and technological change for sustainable development. She has over 60 publications on these issues including five books, and has served or continues to serve on a number of scientific Boards, such as the EUROLICS (The European network for the economics of learning, innovation, and competence building systems) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Board on Trade and Employment. She has also worked at the United Nations in various capacities over the years, and has also previously been on a professorship for innovation and development at the Open University in the UK.

Research, Teaching and More

As a researcher and development activist, she is engaged in grassroots efforts to make technological change inclusive. She is the founder of rights2100, which seeks to promote frameworks that re-articulate the notion of individual rights and social responsibility in the new data economy. She has taught courses on institutional economics, development economics, trade policy, innovation policy and the digital economy in various institutions. She is currently also working on creating new economic modules for higher education on specialized topics, especially trade policy and industrialization with the Tufts University.

Projects & Tools

Global Access in Action

Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines,… More


The Hindu

Creating a fair digital payments market

Local firms in India will be at a disadvantage if big tech companies are given plum roles, says Padmashree Gehl Sampath

Jul 16, 2019
Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute

Do Patents Lead to Market Concentration and Excess Profits?

A first empirical assessment showing that concentration of patents does result in market concentration in certain sectors

Apr 30, 2019
Digital Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School

Can Data Become Part of a Development Strategy?

Data should become an enabler of new models of cooperative growth

Apr 2, 2019

How to make Industry 4.0 work for Europe

On the consequences of ‘new manufacturing’ for European industrial policymaking

Apr 2, 2019
BKC Medium

Reclaiming the Data Commons

A critical perspective on this emerging notion of the data commons

Mar 7, 2019
Global Development and Environment Institute

Industrial Policy 4.0

Promoting transformation in the digital economy

This paper makes a case for comprehensive digital industrial policies that are differentiated and rooted in the broader reality of development and globalization in the fourth…

Dec 7, 2018


May 23, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Data as Development

A Collaborative Workshop

In a digital world, can developing countries use data as an enabler of growth? This and other issues will be debated in a workshop hosted by Digital HKS and the Berkman Klein… More

Feb 21, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

Patents and Market Concentration

Measuring the Impact on Global Access to Medicines

Market concentration in technology industries has become a subject of interest to scholars and policy analysts. This talk presents some of the first empirical results on how the… More