Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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8.3 Technology Transfer Pathways

In general, the transfer of transport technology goes through the five different stages outlined in Chapter 1 (assessment, agreement, implementation, evaluation and adjustment, and repetition). Also, the pathways for technology transfer involves the three main pathways (government driven, private sector driven, and community driven) mentioned in the first chapter; however, government and private sector driven pathways are more dominant than community driven pathways. In addition, the transfer of transport technologies can either be market-oriented, including recent trends such as globalisation and liberalisation, international production networks, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A); occur via regional networks; or be non-market-oriented. In general, the path of transfer differs according to the type of technology. Market-oriented private sector pathways are used on transactions involving vehicle and fuel technologies while bilateral and multilateral treaties are common for transport infrastructure that are government driven pathways. The relatively more recent introduction of privatisation in infrastructure development and maintenance is attracting market transactions such as joint ventures, management contracting and concession arrangements in such transactions. More recently, technology licensing has become a preferred strategy for market oriented pathways, because of its capacity to be a component of a technology-based global product strategy, especially for more matured technologies.

In the transport sector, significant technology is being transferred through M&A and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows. More recently, growth in inter-firm technology agreements has had an impact in the transport sector. FDI has being growing substantially for the past seven years, surpassing growth in ODA, and the transport sector has been part of that growth, especially among major transport MNCs in both industrialised and developing countries. Cross-border M&A in the automobile industry such as General Motors (GM) acquiring Isuzu and Suzuki of Japan, Vauxhall from the U.K and Opel from Germany is an example of transport technology transaction across countries. Two-way inter-firm technology partnerships, which involve joint research and development agreements and the creation of joint R&D ventures with specific research programmes, are increasing, and the automobile industry is the third largest with such type agreements (UNCTAD, 1998). This creates a major pathway for transferring technology across firms, because as R&D become more knowledge intensive firms tend to concentrate their efforts to remain competitive. Hence, concentration of R&D efforts may increase in the future.

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