Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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4.4 Social Infrastructure: the Need for Participatory Approaches

As mentioned in the chapter's introduction, the re-thinking of established approaches to the role of the state in relation to economic and governance agendas ("too much state" vs. "too little state") took a specific form at international and national levels in relation to development and technology transfer. The historical legacy of development efforts provoked a serious reassessment of the appropriate roles of the community, government and private sector in development and technology transfer.

Following the end of World War II and the period of decolonisation, orthodox views of development argued that "latecomers" in the development process should benefit from modern technologies. However, by the 1970s and 1980s, the effects of an overly simplistic approach to development through industrialisation, and the sometimes-harmful effect of economic and political motives by donor nations became noticeable. Increased unemployment, rural-urban migration, foreign debts, ineffective projects and growing technological dependency brought into question the appropriateness of the technology being transferred to developing countries. But by the 1990s, the changed geopolitical and economic environment finally allowed serious official attention to be given to approaches to development that emphasised the need for balance between state, market and civil organisations. This has had two consequences. First, participatory approaches have been introduced to mediate a better match between host country requirements and donor assistance, and these have a broad resonance with the development of forms of good governance (OECD, 1997). There has been a massive shift in thinking (but only to a lesser extent in priorities), from things and infrastructure ("technology transfer") to people and capabilities (knowledge and learning; Chambers, 1997). Secondly, the stated development policy of governments and multilateral institutions has come to be dominated by what has been called a 'new Policy Agenda', where increasing amounts of aid are channelled to and through NGOs, rather than governments, in recipient countries (Edwards and Hulme, 1995).

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