Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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16.3 Interaction of the Local and Global Environment for Technology

The relationships between the specific technology and the local, national, and international contexts all strongly affect the outcome of an attempt to transfer a technology. For example, the local context in which the renewable energy technology is implemented is characterised by climate, topography, local actors, financial and technical institutions, educational resources, and especially by the technology itself. International actors, institutions, and economic and political pressures also play an important role. Within these contexts there are often a number of actors at every level, including the end users, businesses, NGOs, local, state and national governments, and national and multinational development agencies. It is useful to examine the implementation processes as the interaction between two systems: the local environment for the technical and financial operation of the technology or management system and the broader political system in which the technology is implemented. Because both systems are unique, there is no single "best outcome" or path, and the process for achieving success must be locally defined. Additionally, both systems are dynamic, so even in a given context the definition of a "best outcome" is liable to change in time.

While there are few hard rules, some patterns do exist. Changes in certain variables - namely those affecting the relationship between local implementation process and the wider political system - generally produce certain results that are fairly predictable and can be described analytically. For example, a subsidy affects the marketability of a product, often in predictable ways. As a second example, government involvement in programme motivation, popularisation, or in standard setting can significantly accelerate and improve the technology transfer process. However, governmental involvement in detailed technology design or implementation can often lead to inefficient and rigid programmes that do not encourage innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

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