Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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16.2 Case Selection Approach

The objective in choosing the case studies in this report is to provide the reader with a broad picture that highlights the diversity among cases, and maintains a reasonable balance in terms of geographic and sectoral representations. The cases presented herein are not a random sample of the projects in existence. Like any research effort of this nature, the approach of soliciting cases that have important lessons to offer is likely to emphasise successful or partially successful examples of technology introduction and transfer. Interested readers can also consult the extensive literature available about the history of failed examples of technology transfer, both from the perspective of technical mismatch or inability of the local context to support the particular machine, industry, or management practice (see, e.g., Feder and Umali, 1993; Mansfield, 1994), and from the broader cultural perspective where the technology used undermines the local economy or society (Gereffi, 1983; Goulet, 1989). Yet another level of analysis concerns the degree to which research and applied projects in areas most appropriate to local needs and skills are neglected because of fundamental biases in the type of technologies that are valued (Kammen and Dove, 1997).

This variety of potential pitfalls in technology transfer projects is formidable and important. This report largely focuses on successful cases that tended to be the longest running and have the most comprehensive information. The fact that successful cases are common, and so diverse, can be used to draw a number of general lessons and hypotheses about the failures.

The challenges of lack of infrastructure that many nations face, notably in rural areas in developing nations, means that care should be taken when evaluating the opportunity to replicate these experiences. In particular, policymakers should analyse the lessons from the Case Studies in the specific local context where projects are planned. Constraints to local adoption often include:(i)lack of monetary income to pay for technologies in the formal market sense; (ii) the impediments of up-front costs even for technologies that have reasonable pay-back times; (iii) the role of gender and informal markets and industries; and (iv) the need for training and information resources concurrent or in advance of the availability of appropriate technology.

These local constraints on the intended beneficiaries of new technologies often critically determine if projects, programs, or commercial opportunities that would benefit the intended recipients (as well as the local and global environment) are economically viable. An important component of successful programmes has been the recognition of these constraints (i - iv) and the inclusion of specific planning efforts to provide innovative solutions, such as workshop/training efforts, purchase programs following trial/evaluation periods, or micro-loans to both vendors and end-users.

Furthermore, reports from commercial concerns or advocacy groups that may provide cases for self-promotion have been avoided.

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