Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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1.3 Stakeholders, pathways and stages Technology transfer results from actions taken by various stakeholders. Key stakeholders include developers, owners, suppliers, buyers, recipients and users of technology such as private firms, state enterprises, and individual consumers, financiers and donors, governments, international institutions, NGOs and community groups. Some technology is transferred directly between government agencies or wholly within vertically integrated firms, but increasingly technology flows depend also on the co-ordination of multiple organisations such as networks of information service providers, business consultants and financial firms. Although stakeholders play different roles there is a need for partnerships among stakeholders to create successful transfers. Governments can facilitate such partnerships. The rate of technology transfer is affected both by motivations that induce more rapid adoption of new techniques and by barriers that impede such transfers. Both types of factors can be influenced by policy (see Table TS 1).

The theme of technology transfer is highly interdisciplinary and has been approached from a variety of perspectives, including business, law, finance, microeconomics, international trade, international political economy, environment, geography, anthropology, education, communication, and labour studies. Although there are numerous frameworks and models put forth to cover different aspects of technology transfer, there are no corresponding overarching theories. However, the literature reveals a large number of pathways through which stakeholders can interact to transfer technologies. They vary depending on sectors, country circumstances and type of technology. Pathways may be different for "close to market" technologies and for technology innovations still in the development phase. The role of stakeholders is dependent on the pathway followed. Common pathways include government assistance programmes, direct purchases, trade, licensing, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, co-operative research arrangements and co-production agreements, education and training, and government direct investment.

While technology transfer processes can be complex and intertwined certain stages can be identified. These may include the identification of needs, choice of technology, assessment of conditions of transfer, agreement and implementation. Evaluation and adjustment to local conditions, and replication are other important stages. In order to evaluate whether technology transfer can be considered effective, different criteria can be applied. The criteria can be grouped into four categories, namely, (1) greenhouse gas (GHG) and environmentally related; (ii) economic and socially related; (iii) administrative, institutional and politically related; and (iv) process-related.

Table TS1 Principal stakeholders and their decisions or policies in technology transfer


  • national/federal
  • regional/provincial
  • local/municipal
Development goals Environment goals Competitive advantage Energy security Tax policies (including investment tax policy) Import/export policies
Innovation policies
Education and capacity building policies
Regulations and institutional development
Direct credit provision

Private-sector business

  • transnational
  • national
  • local/microenterprise

(including producers, users, distributors, and financiers of technology)

Market share
Return on investment
Technology R&D/commercialisation decisions
Marketing decisions
Capital investment decisions
Skills/capabilities development policies
Structure for acquiring outside information
Decision to transfer technology
Choice of technology transfer pathway
Lending/credit policies (producers, financiers)
Technology selection (distributors, users)


  • Multilateral banks
  • GEF
  • Bilateral aid agencies
Development goals
Environmental goals
Return on investment
Project selection and design criteria
Investment decisions
Technical assistance design and delivery
Procurement requirements
Conditional reform requirements

International institutions

  • WTO
  • OECD
Development goals
Environment goals
Policy formulation
International dialogue
Policy and technology focus
Selection of participants in forums
Choice of modes of information dissemination


  • research centers/labs
  • universities
  • extension services
Basic knowledge
Applied research
Knowledge transfer
Perceived credibility
Research agenda
Technology R&D/commercialisation decisions
Decision to transfer technology
Choice of pathway to transfer technology

Media/public groups

  • TV, radio, newspaper
  • Schools
  • Community groups
  • NGOs
Information distribution
Collective decisions
Collective welfare

Acceptance of advertising
Promotion of selected technologies
Educational curricula

Lobbying for technology-related policies

Individual consumers

  • urban/core
  • rural/periphery
Expence minimisation
Purchase decisions
Decision to learn more about a technology
Selection of learning/information channels
Ratings of information credibility by source

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