Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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8.4 Technology Transfer within Countries

In the transport sector, technology transfer within a country is comparatively smaller than transfer between countries except for very large countries such as the USA, Brazil and China. The transfer of vehicle technologies is limited to sub-contracting between major firms and components manufacturers, especially among automobile manufacturers. The development of vertical disintegration and new forms of supplier-client relationships in the automobile industry, which were triggered by the entry of Japan, has led to the growth of local companies that can produce specialised components with the desired quality and precision required. As a result, by 1996 only Ford and Volvo among the major car companies manufactured more than 60% of their components in-house. Others depend on outside units such as Volkswagen that used only 43% in-house, Mercedes-Benz 38%, GM 37%, BMW, Renault and Peugeot 33%, Fiat 30% and Honda, Nissan and Toyota 25% (UNCTAD, 1998). This change has led to flows of technology within certain countries such as Japan, which depends almost entirely on local Japanese companies for such transactions. Companies in other countries depend on other developed countries; for example, Ford of the USA depends on suppliers from Germany, the U.K., Japan, and Italy, in addition to those of the USA (UNCTAD, 1998). Another area in the transport sector that involves sub-contracting is infrastructure construction and maintenance. Local companies are used for the supply of services to the main contractors and designers in very high quality jobs, especially jobs that involve international financing. This provides opportunities for the transfer of skills within countries.

The transfer of low cost measures such as management practices, fleet control, modal shifts to less carbon intensive modes, improved maintenance, better road signs and signalling is possible within countries but social, cultural and institutional barriers may need to be analysed (Pacudan, 1999). The transfer of fuel technology, such as use of LPG in taxis and CNG in buses, is possible provided the associated infrastructure and distribution networks such as filling stations, repair shops, qualified technical personnel for vehicle conversion and installation competence are available (Sanwar et al., 1999).

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