Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Technology Transfer: A Third World Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Technology Transfer: A Third World Perspective

Article excerpt

The application of technology to stimulate development in the Third, World received unqualified endorsement and support after World War II. In the postwar period from the late 1940s through the early 1960s in particular, a great number of former European colonies in Africa and Asia emerged from the bonds of colonialism to become independent countries. The acquisition and application of technology was considered integral to accelerated development in the newly independent nations. From a classical economic standpoint, development was synonymous with economic growth and industrialization was essential to that growth. Thus, to industrialize, capital accumulation, infrastructure development, foreign technical experts, and the importation of modern technology from the industrialized countries were deemed indispensable. Each newly independent country opted for a strategy of industrialization deemed appropriate for its national development goals. Depending on those goals, a country adopted either an import-substitution industrialization (ISI; to enable the country to manufacture goods that were previously imported for domestic consumption), an export-oriented industrialization (EOI; to enable the country to manufacture goods for export to other countries), or a combination of both. Regardless of the strategy adopted, implementation invariably required the importation of capital goods (that is, machines, equipment, and plants) and the development of national infrastructure for domestic production of manufactured goods. The importation of technology or the so-called transfer of technology from the rich to the new nations that ensued, especially from the mid-- 1960s, was intended to spur development through industrialization. Thus the development of the Third World for all intents and purposes was linked with the acquisition and utilization of technology from advanced Western countries.

Decades of technology transfer have not produced the expected outcome, considering the dismal social and economic conditions in many Third World countries today. The anticipated transformation in the economies of Third World countries has, so far, been elusive. What went wrong? Why has the outcome of technology transfer to the Third World been so disappointing? What is technology? What is technology transfer? Is technology transfer to the Third World what it should be? Under what conditions can the transfer of technology stimulate innovation and development in the Third World?

We in the technology education and allied professions contribute significantly to the technological and socioeconomic development of the Third World. Graduates of our programs are successfully developing and implementing technology education programs in an increasing number of Third World countries. We also contribute through the scholarly work we undertake in some Third World countries from time to time. Our professional conferences and journals, where papers such as this are presented and published, disseminate useful information for use in the Third World. Suffice it to say that in our profession we take pride in making a difference worldwide.

This article discusses the issues raised in the preceding questions concerning technology and its transfer to the Third World, specifically, the current practice of technology transfer and how it can be made more effective in stimulating development in the Third World.

Technology Transfer to the Third World

As many in our profession know, technology encompasses both material and nonmaterial components. That said, perceptions and assumptions about technology can and do affect the outcome of its transfer. A popular perception of technology is that it comprises physical devices. However, the problem with equating technology with physical objects is that so much is often assumed away. It is often assumed that if a machine or a "technique of production" works perfectly well in the country and circumstances in which it was created and nurtured, it ought to do just fine in any other locale. …

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