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Session II: Technology generation and transfer - Transformation alternatives

Report on session II
The collective self-reliance of developing countries in the fields of science and technology
Science and technology in Japanese history: university and society
Legal aspects of the transfer of technology in modern society
Philosophy (concepts) of scientific and technological development

Chairman: Salustiano del Campo Urbano
Co-chairman: Milos Macura
Rapporteur: Cuthbert K. Omari


Gregory Blue

The dominant motif of this session lay in defining a realistic strategy by which the underdeveloped countries - whose peoples of course comprise the vast majority of the population of the globe - would be able to overcome the present cruelly unequal distribution of power over the material and technological resources of the world. A general theoretical framework for the deliberations of this session was provided by Dr. Stambuk, who maintained in his paper that adequate definitions of "development" and "under development" must necessarily be linked to a critique of existing modes of production as such. Dr. Stambuk went on to consider various strategies for scientific-technological development and concluded that only a form of self-reliance rooted firmly in the capacities and interests of the working people would suffice as a steady foundation for a nation's future.

It was pointed out by Dr. Wallerstein in the discussion, however, that the strategies of the transnational corporations make it much easier to talk about self-reliance than to achieve it. This angle was taken up in Dr. Ristic's key paper on the subject of collective self-reliance among developing countries; Dr. Ristic noted that national and collective self-reliance are necessary complements and should be mutually reinforcing. He argued that concerted action by the developing countries is more and more emerging as a powerful impetus for revolutionizing economic and political relations at the global level, and he maintained that this strategy lends itself to being adapted in several areas crucial to scientific-technological development. One of these areas, namely that of the transfer of technology, was later considered in detail by Dr. Besarovic, who gave a fascinating account of the history of legal mechanisms governing such transfers and then suggested ways in which these mechanisms might be changed to the advantage of the countries of the Third World. Again during the discussion, Dr. Issa accused Dr. Besarovic of having placed unrealistic hopes on the benefits to be gained by a reform of legal institutions, and he stressed the snares inherent in the present system of transfers.

Dr. Despic argued that in building up their scientific and technological capabilities countries of the South must distinguish their own priorities from those which the developed countries might like to see them implement; and Drs. Abdel-Malek and Maraj emphasized the effect of exercise of political sovereignty and the right of self-determination as the top priority to be asserted in the face of the numerous forms of subjugation by which developing countries are threatened.

Emphasis on the historical dimension of scientific-technological development was provided by Dr. Kawano, who reviewed pertinent aspects of Japanese experience since the Meiji Restoration. Dr. Hassan's intervention during the discussion also broadened the historical frame of reference by evoking often overlooked lessons from the history of science and technology in the various non-European civilizations.

Anouar Abdel-Malek, Yves Barel, Alexander Despic, Celso Furtado, Ahmad Yousef Hassan, Hossam Issa, Rasheeduddin Khan, Osama A. El-Kholy, James A. Maraj, Vladimir Stambuk, and Immanuel Wallerstein took part in the discussion.

Report on session II

Cuthbert K. Omari

The report of this section is divided into two main parts. The first highlights the main points of the plenary session and the second gives the main points raised during the workshop discussions. The main theme of this section is rural-urban relationship to technology in the transformation of the world. Five papers were presented.

1. The paper by Ristic dealt with the collective self-reliance of the Third World in the development of science and technology. He stated at the beginning that present socio-economic development shows a growing independence and complexity of dynamic changes. Further he stressed that science and technology have been recognized not only as instruments and catalysts of growth but also as vital factors of progress, power, and prestige in every country. However, since 97 per cent of all resources allocated for research and development are still concentrated today in developed countries, this has created a dependence of scientific and technological potentials in developing countries on developed ones. Since there is no value-free science, this affects very much the socio-economic development of developing countries.

He stressed the need for co-operation among the developing countries in developing national potentials. But before such a step is realized, an intercommunication system must be established as one prerequisite. This will help in building a strong relation especially between North and South in a collective way.

Collective self-reliance was called an important instrument in development for two reasons.

It is an instrument for improving negotiations between developing and developed countries, for example by establishing systems of information.

It is an instrument of complementarily in national development. He pointed out that one of the limiting factors in expanding mutual co-operation in different fields, including science and technology, is the scarcity of financial resources.

The paper concluded by stressing the main areas which, according to the author, are very important in the whole question of collective self-reliance. These are resources, strategies for development, management problems, building intellectual creativity, the bridge between research and practice, and better negotiation between the developed and developing countries.

Kawano's paper stressed the fact that Japanese history shows that science and technology were introduced to Japan from Europe long ago, especially before World War II. Since World War II, Japanese society has been influenced by the United States.

It was noted that since the Meiji Restoration government has predominated in the process of industrialization in Japan. However, recently, a new move called "localization" has been stressed not only by the government, but also by people themselves. The aim is to decentralize power and economic activities for the benefit of local populations. Such a move is combined with the desire for a new type of technology that can be controlled through the direct participation of the population - "small decentralized technology." This will involve also policy-making.

The trend is to introduce small-scale industries rather than the existing large-scale modern industries. It is hoped that by doing so the bad side-effects of large-scale industries will be minimized. Also it is within the new trend of developing industries which harmonize with the natural environment.

The paper by Marton dealt with the problem of science and technology in relation to African experience. The paper stressed the fact that science and technology as em pressed in the writings of people such as Fanon, Senghor, and Laroni is the expression of a privileged few.

Science and technology enable men to dominate and control nature and harness it for human development. But man cannot have total control, for to control nature is not an absolute domination. There are side-effects of science and technology; e.g., a car helps to minimize (shorten) time and space in the service of men, but there is the likelihood of accidents, of pollution, etc.

There are two views of science and technology - optimistic and pesimistic. Both see science and technology as a fetish. The optimistic one considers that technology will solve every social problem. Science and technology will dominate men and nature. There is no consideration given to social organization.

The pessimistic view sees the side-effects of science and technology. It brings about alienation and may dehumanize people.

These views were cited to show the predicament of the African when adopting science and technology. The choice is not an easy one. How can an African, for example, adopt science and technology without losing his African identity? Another problem raised was how can an African adopt science and technology for development according to western models of development.

The legal aspect of the transfer of technology was adequately dealt with in a paper presented by Dr. Besarovic. The paper stressed that in developing countries an average 0.7 per cent of the GNP is spent on research while in developed (industrial! countries it is between 1 and 3 per cent on average. Key technology is controlled by multinational corporations and for the benefit of the developed world. The paper stressed that transfer of technology today is one-way only: that is, from developed countries to developing ones. The developing countries lack adequate infrastructure and history of modern technology. Thus developing countries are forced to conform to the existing technological development due to the existing economic systems prevailing in today's world. Intellectual ownership of science and technology becomes the way of transfer - it helps the flow of foreign capital to the developing countries.

It was suggested that laws affecting the transfer of technology must suit national cultures and aspirations.

Stambuk's paper dealt with concepts and philosophy of science and technology. In his paper he suggested that we cannot look at development and underdevelopment from an evolutionary point of view. There is a need for redefinition of the concepts, taking other elements and variables into account.

Also the idea of "intellectual creativity" has some nuances of "progressiveness" and an individualistic tendency. This has a danger. The author suggested that there is a need to develop different technology rather than to "appropriate" technology. This may help when coupled with the concept of self-reliance.

Science and technology must be applicable to the realities of the societies in which they operate. In this way science and technology will become society-oriented and problem-solving processes. This will be possible if societal problems like production level and development are taken into consideration.

The author defined several concepts and terminologies related to his paper.

At the discussion session Abdel-Malek, el-Kholy, Maraj, Khan, Hassan, and Wallerstein made comments and contributions. Questions and points were raised with regard to the transfer of technology in relation to today's world systems. For example, the relation between transfer of technology and the political power structure. It was pointed out that if political power is left out in the process of transfer of technology, there is a problem in realizing the function of science and technology in the society. The decision-makers must be involved in the process of transfer of science and technology.

Also the prevailing contradictions in economic development in the world were pointed out. The in balance not only between developed and developing countries, but also between rural and urban areas in developing countries were pointed out. Also the globalization of cultures and sub-cultures due to the development of worldwide communication systems which are helping the western-oriented cultures and economies to spread.

2. At the workshop group discussions, some elaboration of some points was made.

In relation to the transfer of technology from developed to developing countries it was observed that there is a problem of language. Usually the technological tool or technique developed in western countries has a functional role. There is meaning attached to it. When it is transferred to the developing countries whose language is not the original language in which the technology was invented, it becomes a problem, for the people using it will have no relation to the original meaning of the name given to the tool or the part of the machine. Always the language of invention has a symbolic meaning. This problem of imitation and appropriation was further elaborated by giving examples of African experiences.

  • (a) Most countries have different languages within one country but if there is one language, transfer may be easier.

    (b) The problem of under-population was also noted; this is a problem in relation to the mobilization of productive forces and the marketing system.

  • It was noted, however, that a country whose traditional technology had reached a certain level might adopt a foreign technology with fewer problems.

    In relation to Africa a question was raised as to what extent an African can become modern without losing his/her identity. How one can remain in the past, tradition, without bringing about stagnation in social development? This point was not discussed fully.

    It was also pointed out that we are witnessing universalism in our days. People share the same cultures, but this again has its perils. It may bring about conflicts and endanger the survival of men.

    The problem of self-reliance in relation to transfer of technology was discussed. It was pointed out that it is impossible to resist science and technology in developing countries, but how can we adopt them without being dominated by the developed countries?

    The suggestion was made that the communication system among developing countries should be strengthened. This will help to control information and it is within the area of collective self-reliance in the Third World. From there, then, information can go to the developed countries. This may further help to prevent the side-effects of imitation of science and technology.

    The problem is how to change from the interdependency of domination to mutual interdependency.

    The collective self-reliance of developing countries in the fields of science and technology

    Slobodan Ristic

    Slobodan Ristic

    I. General considerations
    II. Co-operation among developing countries in developing national potentials
    Ill. The strengthening of the negotiating position of developing countries in science and technology
    IV. Instead of a conclusion

    I. General considerations

    1. A growing interdependence and complex and dynamic changes are the major features of modern economic, scientific and technological progress within a country and within the world community. However, century-long colonization and economic and political domination and dependence have created great disparities between various countries with respect to economic development, industrialization and urbanization, and assurance of social justice and prosperity for men. Consequently, an interdependence has been established among "developed'' countries on one hand, and between "developed" and "underdeveloped" ones on the other. Channels of communication, of goods and services, and of knowledge, cultural values, information, and so forth have been set up. Owing to these disparities in the concentration of power, capacities, knowledge, experience and information, and to the established system of communication, developing countries, in their efforts to overcome the gap and to achieve more equity in the relations between the North and the South, had to develop exchange with developed countries.

    Science and technology have been recognized not only as the instruments and catalysts of growth, but also as the vital factors of progress, power, and prestige of every country. However, the fact that approximately 95 per cent of the world's scientific and technological capacities, or 97 per cent of the resources earmarked for research and development, are still concentrated in developed countries has led to the scientific and technological potential of developing countries heavily depending on those of developed nations. This situation merely confirms the well-known fact that interdependence both in science and technology is a part of the relations between the North and the South. In addition, current literature on technological development elaborates the conceptual, substantial, and methodological aspects of the exchange of knowledge between developed and developing countries - technology transfer, choice of technology, appropriate technology, intermediate technology, adaptive technology, and so forth. All these are related to the utilization and adaptation of the achievements offered by the developed world without any alternatives.

    2. Since knowledge and technology are not neutral in social terms, the high dependence of developing countries on developed nations in scientific and technological advancement has serious implications for their social and economic, and even technological, development. The following excerpts from documents prepared for the UN Conference on Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries vividly illustrate this dependence.

    The Report of the Panel of Consultants on Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries reads as follows:

    "Traditional TC, because it was a part of a wrongly conceived 'development thinking,' has contributed to the transfer of, in most part, inappropriate knowledge from 'developed' to TW countries, without even a minimum effort at adaptation to the specific situation of the recipient society. In this type of one-way transfer of knowledge, technology in particular was considered to be 'neutral' in social terms and 'beneficial' in economic development terms. Negative effects of this critical transfer on employment, structure of production, pattern of consumption, income distribution, culture, balance of payment and foreign indebtedness, dependency and so forth were not taken sufficiently into account by traditional TC. Many cases illustrating this point are now available in the literature on the subject."

    One of the studies prepared for the same Conference states:

    "Fundamentally, traditional TC was conceived as one channel among others for the transmission of some specific types of knowledge from 'developed' to 'underdeveloped' countries. This complemented the transmission of other types of knowledge and information in the same direction through various other channels: e.g., the transmission of information, ideologies, values, images, etc. through the mass media; technology, administrative techniques, marketing knowledge, etc., through transnational corporations (TC), information, paradigms, theories, achievement motivation, etc., through education systems, including foreign textbooks and training."

    Thanks to a wide range of social services and efficient bilateral and multilateral machinery, transfer of technology, knowledge, and experience through technical co-operation in the fields of technology, management, public services, planning, urban development, culture, education, and so on is definitely strongly influencing the social, economic, and cultural development of developing countries. Knowledge and technology are transmitted through established channels of "economic and technical assistance" for specific programmed and projects, and so are the conceptions of "modern" and "consumption" societies. This transfer of patterns from "developed" societies also causes a high degree of social injustice, domination, squandering, and alienation of available national natural resources and the introduction of "imitations," which most often are not suited to the specific socio-economic conditions and strategies of individual developing countries. The introduction of foreign concepts, models, and methods in the process of management and decision-making in different spheres of social life, including technological development, is a highly delicate matter in both social and economic terms. Resources management and assurance of a corresponding efficiency and rationality in the decision-making process are an essential prerequisite for social and economic prosperity in every country. However, management is a social process and not a method or technique. This leads us to the conclusion that a non-critical acceptance of management concepts and practices may have serious consequences on the development of developing countries.

    3. The social, economic, and cultural development of a country can not be based on imitations. It has to be conducted in line with social values and strategies, needs, and available resources. Because of their grave economic position in international relations, developing countries are emphasizing the importance of self-reliance, not only as essential to the successful utilization and development of national resources and of liberation from domination and dependence, but also as the basis for a substantial transformation of the present-day world. It is only a natural counterbalance to the theories, concepts and solutions imposed by developed countries in international relations, which place developing countries in the positron of passive observers and dependents on financial resources, knowledge, and information of their more developed partners. This concept is more and more apparent at both the national and international levels. Mr. V. Nayedama defines it thus:

    "Self-reliance is the cornerstone of development. Self-reliance is not self-sufficiency or autarchy. Fundamental to self-reliance is the indigenous capacity for autonomous decision-making. Galtung dealt at length with what self-reliance is not, what could be achieved through self reliance and the negative aspects of self-reliance. Self-reliance is an open-ended concept, a strategy, a process that takes different forms in different fields, e.g. food, finance, energy, technology, etc., involving people at all levels to decide on choices and action to be taken, minimizing dependence, maximizing independence and optimizing interdependence."

    Nayedama defines self-reliance in science and technology as follows:

    "Self-reliant development requires self-reliance in S/T. SR implies an in built preference for developing indigenous technology, competence to generate and use knowledge; [a] mechanism to identify, [and] choose from among a set of options and acquire technology, indigenous or foreign, at best possible terms and blending it with indigenous competence to adapt, assimilate and improve [it] for a continuous increase in productivity."

    It is difficult to find a national plan or more significant political or economic document in any country today that does not define self-reliance as a lasting national strategy. More and more UN documents include collective as well as national self-reliance as a factor in the establishment of new relations and a New International Economic Order. The documents and programmes of action adopted at the conferences of the Heads of State and Governments of the Non-Aligned Countries in Colombo in 1976 and in Havana in 1979 decisively illustrate the political determination of developing countries to develop indigenous capacities and resources and promote closer mutual co-operation in all spheres of activity.

    A number of institutions and scientists in developing countries and progressive academic circles in developed countries define self-reliance as the essential for a substantial transformation of the present-day world. Within this context, science, as a generator of new knowledge and information's, and technology, as knowledge organized to achieve practical objectives, are actually the decisive factors for progress.

    4. In view of the fact that collective self-reliance is a general strategy, in theoretical and social terms, which has been conceptually defined through international research, the UN system, and the joint actions of the non-aligned and other developing countries, there is no need to say any more about general considerations. I shall concern myself instead with a pragmatic analysis of certain factors which ensure practical results for developing countries in attaining collective self-reliance in science and technology. The concept and strategy of collective self-reliance cannot be realized without corresponding efforts by developing countries to attain national self-reliance. This explains the emphasis in this paper on the close interdependence of collective and national self-reliance.

    The idea of collective self-reliance does not imply the self-sufficiency of the know-how network system of developing countries with respect to the scientific and technological achievements of developed countries. However, in order to establish more equitable relations it is necessary to strengthen the negotiating position of developing countries. The collective self-reliance of developing countries in resolving major problems of transferring science and technology in the world will therefore also be treated pragmatically in further consideration of this issue.

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