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Transfering technology

Despite claims by developed nations, lack of technology transfer still haunts third world.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2004 17:30 IST
Arvinder Kaur (Press Trust of India)
Arvinder Kaur (Press Trust of India)

Technology transfer
Strategic Management in Developing Countries
Goel Cohen

Sage Publications
Price: Rs 550
ISBN: 0-7619-0770-9

Tall claims by developed nations notwithstanding, lack of technology transfer continues to haunt developing countries, says this book, citing lack of adequate financial and technological resources, low per capita income and unfair income distribution as the main reasons for it.

"Rigid or ineffective bureaucracies, specific political conditions, high rates of illiteracy, social violence, political instability and frequent labour strikes too affect the technology transfer,"according tothe book.

Transportation, telecommunication and communication systems are poor and cost oriented. Moreover, research facilities in academic institutions are poor, there are few institutions for technologists and researchers and as a result, these countries also suffer from the very serious problem of brain drain, says Goel Cohen, the author of the book.

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent technologically, the transfer of technology from one country to another plays a key role in global development. The transfer of western technology to Japan was very successful and has been a predominant factor in securing Japan its current technological position in the world, says the book.

The notion of transfer of technology, when it is between industrialised nations, is very straight forward, but it is much more fluid when developing countries are involved, says the book.

Cohen explains that problems involving the mastery of foreign technology do not arise in exchanges between industrialised countries in the same way as for developing countries; in the former case the balance between transfer and mastery is more easily attained.

But for a developing country, the capacity transferred is not predetermined to some extent. It can range from the mere transfer of production or organisational capacity to the mastery of a complete process, says Cohen, a visiting Professor at the Imperial College of Science, technology and medicine, University of London.

These differences in the capacity to master technology can raise important political problems. In some developing countries, disappointing outcomes of transfers have been viewed as a result of deliberate actions by technology suppliers to maintain monopolies that they may have been losing elsewhere, he says.

"While the technological backwardness of many developing countries means that transfer of modern technology is essential, technology transfer is more than simply the extra production capacity that is acquired," says the book.

In fact, technology transfer may be said to begin as a solution to 'someone else's problems, it says.

However, the book says that at present, not only is the process of technology transfer very costly and complicated, but its ultimate success is far more contingent than was previously realised.

The book argues that for technology transfer a complete system is required and the system must accommodate the movement from a physical transaction to indigenous technological endowment to technology adoption and development in a host country.

It says that we must not forget the fact that transfer of technology from developed to developing countries remains a major source of support for sustainable development.

Cohen, however, maintains that necessary conditions for successful transfer and knowledge flow are complex, and develops an essential methodology for rigorous modelling which takes into account these factors.

First Published: Jan 29, 2004 17:29 IST