Scientists and World Order: The Uses of Technical Knowledge in International Organizations

By Ernst B. Haas; Mary Pat Williams | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Science and Technology for Economic Development

Not very long ago it would have been considered naive to ask how science and technology could best be managed and organized to spur economic growth. The answer seemed obvious: The normal operations of the international division of labor, in science and in trade and investment, automatically result in spreading the appropriate knowledge and funds to areas which enjoy the natural and human advantages for best utilizing them. When automaticity seemed to lag, it could be helped along with loans, tax incentives, licensing agreements, and technical assistance, without fundamentally challenging the rules of competition and the market. Since the early 1960s this view has been strongly challenged because it stressed a single developmental goal: increasing the gross national product through reliance on the classical division of labor in the international economy.

There is no difficulty about enumerating the new goals. The trouble begins when a government is forced to choose among goals which cannot be obtained simultaneously, because of costs or because they are perceived as antagonistic in terms of their potential results. These goals still include raising the gross national product, but also call for (1) achieving more equitable distribution of growth through more egalitarian consumption, income, health, and housing patterns, (2) maintaining social stability and traditional values, (3) spurring national pride and self-confidence. The first is almost certainly incompatible with the second. If national pride is achieved by dint of efforts to develop an indigenous scientific elite and technological capability, as is the professed aim of almost all developing countries and of international organizations, it is most likely to interfere with the goal of equality and delay the optimization of aggregate economic growth. The incompatibility of goals tends to be fudged by stressing the argument about economic and cultural dependency and the imperative need for ending it. The interna

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