15.5.2 Pathways of In-Country Technology Transfer
Chapter 1 identified five stages within the process
of technology transfer: (i) assessment, (ii) agreement, (iii) implementation,
(iv) evaluation and adjustment and (v) repetition. These stages should not be
confused with the four steps outlined in Section 15.1.
These latter four steps describe the process of coastal adaptation, while the
above five stages define the process of technology transfer. R&D, aimed
at technology development, innovation and acceptance, is a crucial stage before
the actual technology transfer (cf. Gibson and Rogers, 1994).
As noted above, national governments, directly or indirectly, are the primary
developer of coastal-adaptation technologies and governments at all levels are
the principal users. Transfer mechanisms relevant to R&D include (i) sharing
information via workshops, briefings and visits, (ii) publications in professional
journals and presentations at scientific and technical conferences, and (iii)
where appropriate, patents. At this stage, research quality and strength and
scholarly reputation are most significant, while technology-transfer plans and
processes are considered less important.
Technology assessment and agreement call for shared responsibility between technology
developers and users. Success occurs when a technology is transferred across
personal, functional or organisational boundaries and is accepted and understood
by designated users. Implicit in these stages is the belief that successful
technology transfer is simply a matter of getting the right information to the
right people at the right time. Typical mechanisms include technical consulting,
good-practice schemes and manuals, exchange programmes and various grants and
cooperative agreements in which work is undertaken to benefit both parties.
The success of technology implementation is marked by the timely and efficient
employment of the technology. Users should have the knowledge and resources
to implement the technology. Following evaluation and adjustment of the technology,
repetition is directed at the fully integrated use of the technology by the
user community and its further dissemination. Technology repetition builds on
the successes achieved in obtaining the objectives of the previous stages. Where
hardware is concerned, such as structural technologies and monitoring equipment,
successful repetition may require an industrial provider. In these cases, market
strength is required.
Moving from R&D to technology repetition is not a linear process. As illustrated
by the new breakwater technology CoreLoc (Case Study 21),
complexity increased significantly as the transfer process moved from intra-agency
technology, via the presentation of experimental findings at other government
facilities, to implementation in partnership with private-sector entities.
Box 15.2 illustrates the obstacles encountered between the
development and application of an important concept for shoreline management in
England and Wales, which eventually resulted in a diffusion period of 30 years. An
important lesson from these two examples is that feedback from the technology users
drives the transfer process.
|Box 15.2 Shoreline management plans
| Littoral or sediment cells are self-contained systems that contain all
the sources, pathways, stores and sinks of beach sediment. They were first
recognised over 30 years ago (Komar, 1998), and define natural divisions
of the coastline as opposed to the arbitrary geopolitical divisions that
are normally used to break up the coast into management units. Academics
quickly recognised that littoral cells provided a more effective basis for
shoreline management (e.g., Carter, 1988), but until recently there has
been limited transfer of this approach to real-world application (see also
Case Study 16).
England and Wales have a long tradition of using rigid defences against
flooding and erosion in many areas (Klein et al., 1999). Large parts of
eastern England would be flooded on every high tide without such defences.
These defences were often planned by relatively small geopolitical units
(e.g., maritime district councils or local drainage boards), although most
funding came from central government. While long-term rates of sea-level
rise were often considered in design (e.g., Gilbert and Horner, 1984), the
long-term consequences of defences in terms of sediment supply to the littoral
cell were not considered. Therefore, protection at one site often led to
the need to protect adjoining sites, and the slow but progressive expansion
in the length of defended coastline has starved much of the coast of new
These problems have led to a number of policy changes, such as a move towards
softer approaches to protection. This has included one of the first transfers
of the cell concept to shoreline management. The coast of England and Wales
has been divided into 11 littoral cells and about 50 littoral subcells (MAFF
et al., 1995). About 40 shoreline management plans (SMPs) have been defined
and initiated based on one or more subcells. Most subcells are larger than
the traditional geopolitical units involved in shoreline planning, necessitating
partnerships to produce the SMPs. Each SMP takes a strategic view of future
shoreline defence and after dividing the coastline into management units,
four possible policies are evaluated: (i) do nothing, (ii) advance the line,
(iii) hold the line and (iv) retreat the line. Importantly, SMPs are "living"
documents, and regular revisions are expected to reflect changing policy,
improved understanding and opportunities for innovation (Leafe et al., 1998).
The slow diffusion of the SMP approach to practice around the world reflects
two key factors. First, the cell concept was developed by coastal scientists,
while coastal managers were largely trained in more technical disciplines,
hindering exchange. Second, there was no immediate market for the approach
as the problems of existing management approaches do not become manifest
for decades or longer. In England and Wales, diffusion was facilitated by
the need to (i) improve understanding of coastal processes, (ii) predict
likely future coastal evolution, (iii) identify assets likely to be affected
by coastal change, (iv) identify need for regional or site-specific research
and (v) facilitate consultation (MAFF et al., 1995). The threat of sea-level
rise helped to raise these concerns and needs, while economic appraisal
has helped to distinguish more efficient approaches to shoreline management
(e.g., Penning-Rowsell et al., 1992; Turner et al., 1995).