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II Technology generation and transfer: Transformation alternatives
If the first session of the conference developed the themes of globalisation and of the reciprocal interaction of science, technology and society, and if it likewise advanced the demand that the great potentials of science and technology should be integrated into social struggles for democratic rights, then this second session may be said to have followed a pattern according to which these various threads were woven together into a single design. The dominant motif of the session thus rightfully 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 especially the technological, resources of the world.
A general theoretical framework for the deliberations of this session was provided in the paper by Dr Stambuk, who noted that definitions of 'development' and 'underdevelopment' are notoriously legion, and who took the position that adequate definitions of these phenomena must be linked to a critique of existing modes of production as such. Dr Stambuk then went on to consider various strategies for scientific-technological development; and he 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.
As pointed out by Dr Wallerstein during the discussion, however, it is often a good deal easier to talk about self-reliance than to achieve it, since the 'global reach' of the transnational corporations is at present working to intensify an international division of labour which keeps underdeveloped countries dependent. Therefore, according to Dr Wallerstein, national strategies of development can only be realistically conceived and carried out when they are understood as so many partial contributions to transforming the present world order. This angle was taken up in Dr Ristic's key paper on the subject of collective self-reliance among developing countries: Dr Ristic portrayed the aim of self-reliance in general as the generation of indigenous skills and technologies capable of sustaining continuous increases in production; and he observed that, far from excluding each other, national and collective self-reliance are necessary complements and should be mutually reinforcing. Every country should thus undoubtedly aim at fulfilling its own basic needs to the greatest extent possible; but individual countries standing alone inevitably find themselves in a relatively weak position not only because of the power of the developed countries and their transnationals, but also because the scale of certain operations (e.g. in the realms of science and technology) may be too great or too complex to be met with the resources of any single country. For such reasons, concerted action by the developing countries is more and more emerging as a powerful impetus for "revolutionising and political relations at the global level; and this strategy lends itself to being adapted in several areas crucial to scientific-technological development.
Dr Ristic, in fact, considered several such areas; but one in particular-namely, that of the transfer of technology - was later considered in detail by Dr Vesna Besarovic. Dr Besarovic began by noting that contemporary technology-transfer is usually a means for perpetuating the structure of global inequality in general; she then gave a fascinating account of the history of legal mechanisms governing such transfers and suggested ways in which these mechanisms might be changed to the advantage of the Third World. Whereas Dr Stambuk had already mentioned that the first precondition for any successful transfer of technologies is a well-defined indigenous concept of development, Dr Besarovic maintained that the realisation of such a concept requires systematic regulation of transfers by Third World State-apparatuses and is also most facilitated by the joint action of developing countries in both negotiating and regulating them 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 perhaps he was rather too severe in this; but he did succeed in drawing attention to snares inherent in the present system of transfers. And, by way of a preview, it can be noted that in the fourth session Dr El-Kholy expressed reservations in regard to projected revisions of the Paris Convention governing international property rights and that Dr Silva Michelena called specifically for the erection of a special institution charged with the responsibilities of negotiating and regulating transfers of technology for the Third World as a whole.
Taking up a theme dear to Dr Abdel-Malek, Dr Despic stressed 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 emphasised the effective exercise of political sovereignty and the right for a nation to determine its own future as the top priority to be asserted in the face of the numerous forms of subjugation by which developing countries are threatened. On the international level, however, Dr Abdel-Malek spoke of the benefits accruing especially but not exclusively to relations with 'progressive' States, while Dr Maraj thought it feasible to work with parties from all sides, provided that the freedom of decision of developing countries is strengthened. At any rate, the most sober and practical assessment on this subject was probably that of Dr Despic, who noted that those who like to act as 'proprietors' are not only to be found in 'capitalist' countries, and that in the fields of science and technology the basic task for countries of the South is to generate interest-based arguments which will be effective in inducing all such proprietors to share what they at present regard as their exclusive property.
Emphasis on the historical dimension of scientific-technological development was provided especially by Dr Kawano, who reviewed pertinent aspects of the experience of Japan, that major latecomer to modern science and technology, whose record has been so impressive; and Dr Kawano's paper can, by the way, be fruitfully read in conjunction with that by Dr Nakaoka in the fifth session. Dr Hassan's intervention during the discussion to the present session also broadened the historical frame of reference by evoking often overlooked lessons from the history of science and technology in the various non-European civilisations and by thus discrediting the notion that science and technology are incompatible with the different cultures peculiar to those civilisations
In his paper entitled Conceptions of scientific and technological development, Dr Vladimir Stambuk first called attention to the inadequacies of current notions of development and underdevelopment; he then went on to offer a critique of existing philosophies of scientific-technological development, and finally he sketched the outlines of several elements necessary for defining a feasible strategy of self-reliance.
Terms such as 'development' and 'underdevelopment' remain notoriously vague because different types of people link them to a large variety of contradictory social goals. Nevertheless, one can make a broad distinction between two general approaches that have been "generally predominant" until now. "The first insists on growth- i.e. on quantitative indicators. Its point of departure lies in the notion that it is important to produce things: a man with plenty of goods at his disposal will have his needs satisfied. This approach is based on the view that the existing socio-economic conditions... should not be fundamentally changed" The second approach, on the other hand, "does not neglect quantitative aspects, but it also insists on changes of quality in human relations" and in the conditions under which production takes place.
In fact, there was little talk of development in the industrialised countries before 1975. Until then, there was "at best" talk of growth. "Changes started taking place only after the grave energy crisis shook the West", and the study of development "swiftly led some theorists in the more developed western capitalist countries to the concept of overdevelopment" and to related theories of zero growth. All such theories fail to provide an elaborated concept of development as such and confine themselves, for example, to calculating per capita GNP.
On the other hand, in the approach taken mainly by scientists from the developing countries, "the notion of development is their central category, the pivot around which scientific arguments and critiques of the existing set of international economic relations are organised". Such scholars maintain that "the developing countries... have the right to a more rapid socio-economic development"; and they demand "more or less radical changes in the mode of production both in the highly developed industrialised countries and in the developing countries.... Even these [authors], however, do not elaborate the notion of development to a sufficient degree, nor is it a part of a coherent theoretical concept [for them]; it is rather used as a key term."
The lack of solidity of conceptions of development becomes especially manifest in considering 'underdevelopment', to which there are apparently "seven basic approaches". According to the first, "the problem of underdevelopment does not exist at all", for by following "an inevitable historical process" developing countries will one day become the same as today's developed countries. A second group of theorists approximates the first thesis, but in a negative way: "underdeveloped countries remain underdeveloped because they have not undergone the process of exploitation to a sufficient degree. In other words, if such countries were exploited to a higher degree, they would become an integral part of developed capitalism and thus reach its present developed level." A third approach focuses on the inequality of international relations under the dominance of a 'metropolis' which 'develops automatically' at the expense of a 'periphery' (e.g. Samir Amin and A. Emmanuel). Closely related to the third approach is a fourth including dependencia theories (e.g. A. G. Frank). A fifth approach assumes that an underdeveloped society is one which lacks the chief characteristics of a consumer society or a Welfare State. A sixth maintains that "underdevelopment is the characteristic of certain productive relations": certain Latin American analysts thus blame feudal relations of production for the low level of development on their continent, while there is a body of Western literature which "indirectly blames the socialist mode of production" for underdevelopment. Finally, a seventh group of authors maintain that underdevelopment "is an essential characteristic of the highly developed capitalist world", in which "social differences keep on increasing..., creating so-called 'pockets of poverty'." In this view, capitalism inevitably leads to underdevelopment.
In Dr Stambuk's opinion, the concepts of 'development' and 'underdevelopment' could be determined more adequately by being linked to "a fundamental critique of the existing mode of production" and of "the very aims of industrialisation"; in other words, they should be linked to "a critique of the existing strategic civilisational orientation". "There should be no doubt that it is possible to start looking for a different form of civilization and thus for a new mode of production. This new mode should have its roots in the theory and practice of socialism, in the experience of the developing world and in the manifest shortcomings and contradictions of capitalism. The direction of theoretical reasoning and practical action should not therefore have their base exclusively in the critique of characteristics of contemporary capitalism. The direction which should be taken does not imply merely the overcoming of the capitalist mode of production."
"The new, socialist - and thus different - civilization has to be based on the authentic, specific characteristics of those societies which are in search of an alternative road to development." The values and goals of such a civilization will in many respects have to be "not only opposed to, but also different from the existing ones... [and] they will have to [be structured by] and have their catalyst in the unity of potentials and interests of the broadest stratum of each society: the working class.... The experience of socialist countries and of some developing countries already provides an outline of such possibilities. The diversity, the lack of coherence and the failures do not mean that there are no positive results." It is within this framework that conceptions of scientific-technological development should be discussed.
Recalling forcefully to mind the criticism of Eurocentrism advanced by Dr Lefebvre, Dr Stambuk said: "There is a fairly widespread view, which seeks its justification in the entire Judaeo-Christian culture, that technology and its development represent a peculiar feature of Western civilization. Arguments offered in this connection attempt to prove that this peculiarity of that culture is the reason for its 'prevalence'. Social and economic 'achievements' of the West are mainly linked to the ability of that culture to develop scientific knowledge and technological solutions. Furthermore, this ability is alleged to secure the continued superiority of Western culture, and thus its own future progress and that of the rest of the world. In our view, such arguments are compatible neither with the evidence which history offers nor with the actual creative potential of today's humanity. Such insistence on technological 'super-characteristics' of Western civilization tend to overlook the real contradictions of the modern world; more important still, it conceals and makes obscure certain solutions and roads to development which do exist. In this respect, [it is urgently necessary to] indicate the scope and possibilities of the modern world to overcome the inequalities, contradictions and exploitation which are inherent in the concept of science and technology as developed by Western culture."
Although there can be no doubt that technology and even science are becoming "directly productive forces", there are, nevertheless, several different views on what science and technology actually are; and it is therefore most important to have explicit working definitions of science and technology. In formulating such definitions, Dr Stambuk gave a generic categorisation of science, although he did not specify any distinction between modern and traditional science: "... science is a conscious social activity which has the task of creating a systematised body of knowledge... achieved through description and explanation of social and natural phenomena. The task of science therefore is to establish regularities (social and natural) or at least to point out the facts which may help explain certain phenomena. The new knowledge thus gained has to be verifiable and in accordance with reality; briefly, it has to help establish objective truths." Technology, on the other hand, is most acceptably defined "as a multitude of techniques and modes which are the outcome of scientific discoveries, enable people to use nature in an organised manner and help them to manage social processes".
With these general considerations in mind, it can be said that various conceptions of scientific and technological development should be judged according to two criteria: (1) how well do they "actually contribute to the swift social development of the contemporary world, and especially of its less developed part"? and (2) do they or could they offer "ways and means of using everything positive and beneficial to the development of mankind"? In current theory and practice one can provisionally distinguish four approaches to scientific and technological development. These approaches might, respectively, be termed technologically optimistic, technologically pessimistic, 'appropriate' end self-reliant.
Representatives of the first approach "ultimately regard technology as the key which can solve all social contradictions. This view maintains that whenever grave, apparently insurmountable social problems and contradictions arise, new technological discoveries make it possible to maintain and extend the pace and the volume of production." "The most fervent advocates of this vision are most certainly the multinational companies." While one would not want to say that the role of technology in the development of society should be denied or negatively evaluated, "it is nevertheless beyond doubt that [technological] optimism of this kind is not realistic or historically justified.... Technological solutions alone cannot solve the problem of cultural development, the dilemmas which exist when the goals of social and economic development are to be defined, the problems of colonialism and neo-colonialism, or the problem of... the creation of political systems with democratic characteristics, etc.... Such burning issues of today's world... have to be solved primarily through the inclusion of broad masses of producers into the [transformational] process, the masses who should be the true masters of their own fate."
A second widely spread view of the role of science and technology in development is that which perceives technology as a negative factor in social development. This concept has "numerous advocates in the developed world" who "blame developed technology for many negative aspects of the capitalist world", such as pollution, stratification, overnourishment and undernourishment, etc. The negative effects of modern technology as found in both the developed and the underdeveloped countries "lead these theorists to the claim that technology is generally unacceptable to humanity as a whole" and that happiness is to be found in social life organised in small communities without the technology necessary for large-scale mass-production. Such proposals are strongly advised to the Third World countries for two reasons. The first is one of "egoism" or underhanded 'generosity'. Before the 1970s very few of these theorists had claimed that the development of technology could be socially damaging: "... the egoism of exploitation prevented them from taking such a view". Now "when the elements of crisis exist", their motives are again egoistic, and "they are not worried by the fact that over three billion people have problems which can be solved only if further development of science and technology is combined with the introduction of appropriate social relations". This, of course, brings us to the second reason motivating the proposals of such theorists, viz. "their interest in maintaining the capitalist mode of production...".
The third approach to scientific-technological development focuses on the concept of intermediate technology, also known as 'appropriate technology'. "This concept is an applied form of the view that technological innovation can solve everything." "The essence of this concept is that the developed industrial world should continue producing new technology, which should not be sophisticated, but suited to the needs of the agrarian developing countries."
Many 'appropriate' characteristics this technology are often enumerated. However, "the existing patterns of capitalist relations are implicitly regarded as universally acceptable, and only technology is regarded as unacceptable". Like the first two approaches, this one also has its "rational elements"; but it does not "question its own rationale", and it thus fails to clarify "the purpose of creating an alternative technology".
Finally, as a strategy for coping with the problems of development in general, self-reliance should only in a derivative sense be considered as an approach to problems of scientific and technological development. This is because self-reliance "explores the possibility of finding new, different social solutions, rather than alternative technological solutions.... This concept... embraces attempts to devise certain social solutions which would enable technology and science to become the true agents and participants in different, socialist, roads to development."
"Revolutionary attitudes are the salient features of the basic and most numerous social group in each modern society." Revolutionary changes will thus have different features, depending on whether this basic social group consists of an industrial proletariat or a peasantry; but the "basic feature" of a self-reliant policy is "that different roads to development from those in capitalist societies are sought".
Self-reliance thus "does not reject the need for scientific and technological development... [but] it questions social assumptions on which scientific and technological development has until now been founded" According to Dr Stambuk, a proper notion of self-reliance should not include the views of those (such as Tinbergen) who advocate specific alternative/intermediate technologies as 'self-reliant'; but it should include "the use of scientific and technological solutions which already exist", including "some of the achievements of intermediate technology". In fact, "the dilemma of developed technology versus intermediate technology is an artificial dilemma; the real dilemma is how to create the technology which would be suitable to those who use it, while it would solve social problems facing the developing world...". Science and technology must "solve theoretical and practical problems facing people in the developing countries when they manage their material and social resources and their society". In this respect, as explained in the fifth session by Dr Bonfil-Batalla, it is necessary to "pay more attention to the social and human sciences and to develop them in accordance with the traditions and needs of each individual society...".
"To put all this in simple terms, if science and technology are to serve the cause of social development of the developing countries, they must not be mere copies of alien schemes. They must represent a creative effort to overcome one's own social contradictions on the basis of the interests and needs of associated producers. In this way science and technology stand a chance of becoming true elements capable of helping develop a new, different civilization. This civilization will be free and authentic in so far as its creation is based on authentic national and human needs, on genuine capacities rather than mere transfers, on long-term goals rather than daily objectives, on mutuality and international co-operation rather than exploitation and national egoism.... Such a civilization will secure social progress but also social justice, unity but also diversity, the development of science and technology but without any domination over people, international exchange but on the basis of equality. Its social pillar will be the immediate producers; they will be its inspirers and its builders."
Speaking on a topic which has in many ways fascinated Third World intellectuals during the last fifteen years, Dr Kawano Kenji presented his position paper, Science and technology in Japanese history. Dr Kawano pointed out that although the natural sciences and engineering were introduced from the West more than 200 years ago, it was only after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 that great official importance was attached to science and technology. Before that time there were, nevertheless, a number of pioneering advocates of modern science such as Sakuma Shozan (1811-1864), who was "assassinated because he tried to introduce Dutch science and technology in that early stage of the modernisation or westernisation of Japan, in spite of the chauvinistic nationalism of the time". Sakuma advanced the slogan 'Eastern morals and Western arts' in order "to make clear that Eastern morals should not exclude Western technology".
When Japan began to modernise, after the Meiji Restoration, she was confronted with "eminent rivals before her as models". Establishment of "the political unity and the independence of the nation" were the main tasks confronting her; and "other issues such as the political liberty of individual citizens or freedom of ideas were regarded as far less important". Nevertheless, although "the Meiji government wanted the centralisation of administrative power and invulnerable authority,... it took another fifteen years after the Meiji Restoration to achieve this original aim by oppressing the opposition parties and by suppressing agitation without mercy".
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Japan "accepted Western science and technology without reserve, while she recognised the value of her oriental tradition in the realms of philosophy, morals, literature and social sciences...". This option was given institutional reality in the educational centres of the day. The establishment of the 'Imperial University' in Tokyo in 1878 and Kyoto in 1898 "symbolised the government's policy for the aim of higher education in Japan - namely, for the practical purposes of rearing government personnel for technological training and the medical sciences". Although the humanities were taught at the Faculty of Letters, they were "oriented towards the classics... [and] inclined to be apolitical, anti-modern, idealistic and moralistic" (rather like their opposite numbers in the West during the same period).
"The political implication of the establishment of the national universities for practical purposes was to reveal and support the government's position against the private universities which had been started by intellectuals and leaders of the opposition parties during the early Meiji period." Universities such as Keio and Waseda had been established "for the study of the humanities, particularly for the learning of foreign languages and other Western-oriented disciplines such as economics and political science". The Meiji government refused to employ any of the graduates of such establishments either in government service or in state-run universities. Yet, "in order to accommodate all the graduates in applied sciences", the Government "had to encourage not only public enterprises, but also private industries"; and "once private industries were firmly established, the national universities could not keep their privilege as the sole supplier of graduates to them". After World War II especially, "the government was finally forced to recognise the rationale and role of the private universities".
Between the two wars the influence of Western ideas and techniques spread to the humanities: "in particular,... some courageous national university professors began to criticise the status quo of the social establishment openly. Inevitably there were cases of struggle over appointments to particular chairs between the Government and the universities. Japan experienced quite a number of tragic lessons of this sort before the outbreak of World War II."
"The defeat in World War II ironically brought another industrialisation to Japan. New research fields and technology originating in the US were introduced." "... National universities have now expanded in number from 19 before the war to 93 at present"; research institutes for science and technology have multiplied greatly, and engineering faculties, in particular, have flourished. New institutes for economic and business management using quantity-analysis methods developed in the US have also sprung up. "Unfortunately", however, "the new local universities have insufficient funds and personnel to promote the study of social science..."; but "the significant change in the realm of the humanities is the alleviation of government control and interference and the disappearance of taboos in research projects...".
Despite the great changes after the War, "the leadership that the central government has shown" has remained an "unchangeable factor". Throughout the occupation of Japan by the American army "the US tried to introduce the idea of decentralisation in the Japanese administration, but met direct or indirect resistance from the bureaucracy.... The evolution of science and technology in post-war Japan has been carried on under the guidance of central government authorities such as the Ministry of Education and the Science and Technology Agency."
Since the end of World War II, the rapid growth of the Japanese economy has depended on the development of huge industries based on breakthroughs in the fields of cybernetics, electronics, atomic energy and synthetic chemistry. Yet by the end of the 1960s it had become apparent that "science and technology, which have long been thought to represent the most brilliant achievements in the world, have suddenly proved to be incompatible with human beings and their societies... [and] could kill us all. Poisoning from agricultural chemicals and medical drugs, air pollution from the petroleum industry, water pollution from synthetised fertilisers, traffic accidents and atomic plant radiation leaks, all of these are damaging our society, although they are the by-products of modern industry, of science and technology.
"In the space of a few years, our sense of values has reversed itself. Science and technology suddenly lost their brilliant status and their impact was regarded as suspect, though people still cling to the benefits they provide." People began to feel "a strong need for decentralisation and a local autonomy, as the negative view of science and technology began to prevail among the general public, and criticism and opposition increased against the centralised policies of the government."
What have been the results? Unfortunately, they seem to have suspiciously parallelled certain phenomena described by Dr Barel: "In the spring of 1979 the local elections for governors and mayors were held in fifteen prefectures and in hundreds of cities and towns. At that time all political parties and the mass media advocated the slogan 'Here comes the age of local communities'. What did this ambiguous catch-phrase mean?... The result of the election showed us that all of the former governors of large prefectures such as Tokyo and Osaka who had stood for a progressive opposition party were replaced by veteran administrators in charge of local problems in the central government. For them 'the age of local communities' simply meant that a local governor with a strong connection to the central government would be able to draw out more from the central funds for his local community."
This sort of "regionalisation" is "not sufficient to satisfy the real needs of the regional community". "It will not guarantee the autonomy of the local community or its inherent creativity. After a hundred years of centralisation Japan suffers from severe damage to the identity and independence of the local community. People should therefore claim more insistently their right to a 'regional community'. Otherwise 'the age of local communities' will end up as nothing but another deceptive slogan."
At present it is noticeable that "the government economic circles and even the mass media are continually paying lip service to the issues of the 'regional communities"'. The late Prime Minister Ohira, for example, envisaged building a number of smell 'garden cities' throughout the country. There are, likewise, plans carried out in the name of decentralisation which seek to transfer the administration of traffic and welfare services to local governments; and many 'local community projects' are advanced as joint ventures of the regional government and groups of local businessmen.
What effects do such changes have on the present situation of science and technology? "It is well known that the introduction of huge industrial units in the American style brought economic development to post-war Japan. But it is also well known that the elaborate conglomerate cannot evolve any further, partly because of the lack of new markets, partly because of environmental pollution and inevitable accidents, but chiefly because of the shortage of resources and the new energy crisis. The technology needed at this moment is not that of the huge industrial conglomerates on a national scale and the know-how to operate them, but the development of 'intermediate technology' or 'small decentralised technology' which actually meets the needs of the local community and is under control of the members of the community; and the re-evaluation of techniques for manufacture and livelihood which have been fostered and handed down in a traditional community.... A radical change in the philosophy of science has been under way for the relocation of the regions of human life along the water supply routes and the reorientation of human society as an ecological entity. As for the energy crisis, an 'automatic energy plan' will be recommended to each regional community to replace the current energy-consuming technology and way of life."
"... The extreme advocation of 'anti-technology' [however] could easily lead to a total denial of the value of science and technology.... [Yet] Japan has been so deeply committed to science and technology that it is incredible to imagine her giving up her huge research projects..., or casting away her elaborate industrial investments.
"What we can hope for the future of Japan is not a vainglorious centralised government, but a productive administration system which honours the initiative and identity of local communities; not a huge conglomerate for science and technology, but a small-scale flexible system of technology; not only devotion to an analytical and rational science, but also encouragement of wide varieties of humanities and social sciences."
Speaking on a subject with which he has been closely involved by his work for the UN in the last several years, Dr Slobodan Ristic presented a position paper entitled Collective self-reliance of developing countries in the fields of science and technology. The world is in many fundamental ways still marked by a persistence of "great disparities" resulting from centuries of "economic and political domination and dependence," and the very fact that approximately 95 per cent of the world's scientific and technological capacities (or 97 per cent of all resources earmarked for research and development) are still concentrated today in the developed countries has created "a high degree of dependence of the scientific and technological potentials of the developing countries on those of the developed nations".
As noted in a recent report by the Panel of Consultants on Technical Cooperation among the Developing Countries, "traditional technical co-operation, because it was part of a wrongly conceived 'development thinking' has for the most part contributed to the transfer of inappropriate knowledge from 'developed' to Third World countries, without even a minimum effort at adaptation to the specific situations of the recipient countries. In this type of one-way transfer of knowledge, technology, in particular, was considered to be 'neutral' in social terms and 'beneficial' in economic terms. Negative effects of this transfer on employment, structure of production, patterns of consumption, income distribution, culture, balance of payments and foreign indebtedness, dependency, etc., were not taken sufficiently into account...." According to Dr Ristic, the intro auction of foreign models of management and decision-making is' in particular, "a highly delicate matter in both social and economic terms' for management is "a social process and not a method or technique"; and the "non-critical acceptance of management concepts and practices may have serious consequences on the development of the developing countries".
With the accumulation of experiences showing that "the social, economic and cultural development of a country cannot be based on imitations", the developing countries are now increasingly "emphasising the importance of self-reliance, not only as an essential prerequisite of the successful utilisation and development of national resources", but also as the basis for a substantial transformation of the present-day world. Seen as the very "cornerstone of development", self-reliance is defined not as self-sufficiency or autarky, but as an open-ended strategy within which "the indigenous capacity for autonomous decision-making" is fundamental. The opposite of rule by authoritarian decree, it embodies "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 actions to be taken, minimising dependence, maximising independence and optimising interdependence". Self-reliance in the field of science and technology "implies an in-built preference for developing indigenous technology and competence to generate and use knowledge..."; its aim should be "to identify and choose from among a set of options [in order to] acquire technology, indigenous or foreign, at the best possible terms and then to blend it with indigenous competence so as to adapt, assimilate and improve it for a continuous increase in productivity".
The concept of collective self-reliance, in particular, is gaining increasing currency at the international level. Collective self-reliance does not imply closing channels of communication with the developed countries, but it does mean filling in the major gap in today's international system of communications and cooperation - namely, that between the developing countries themselves. This strategy thus seeks to develop the indigenous capacities and resources of the Third World and to promote closer mutual co-operation in all spheres of activity. Because of the "close interdependence of collective and national self-reliance", the former cannot be realised "without corresponding efforts on the part of the developing countries in attaining self-reliance at the national level".
Every country has as one of its foremost responsibilities the formulation of scientific and technological strategies which should pinpoint both the constraints on development and the availability of human, physical and financial resources necessary for scientific and technological progress. Such strategies "should be aimed at achieving national objectives such as economic growth, the development of national capacities for innovation and education, the management of resources, a guarantee of national security and a balance of payments, improvement of the quality of life and the position of man, etc.". Unfortunately, most developing countries still do not yet possess elaborated scientific and technological strategies; and they also usually fail to differentiate between scientific and technological policies as such.
"The development of the methodological basis of scientific and technological development strategies is [thus] a significant area of co-operation among the developing countries, since there are many common features and similarities in their conditions and the resources available to them. On the other hand, the availability of technological achievements... and indigenous research in developing countries is highly valuable and very often suitable to other developing countries." Another area of vast possibilities for mutual exchange lies in the domain of management. In the light of the especially noxious effects of importing management concepts uncritically from the industrialised nations, "there is obviously an urgent basis to create an indigenous concept and methodological basis of management in the developing countries, along with [making] a critical use of the achievements of the developed countries".
It is nowadays estimated that "only 3 per cent of research and development activities [in the world] are devoted to the specific problems of the developing countries"; this is, of course, not unrelated to the fact that "the share of the developing countries in total expenditures for R&D (estimated at 96.5 billion dollars in 1973) was a mere 2.8 per cent, compared with 58 per cent accounting for the activities of the USA and the USSR". Despite the fact that world research and development activities are experiencing rapid growth, "the nature of world-accumulated knowledge is decreasingly relevant to the developing countries"; and, in fact, "the development of research and development activities is quite frequently in contradiction with the interests of the developing countries. While a billion dollars has been allocated to research and development of synthetics production, little or nothing at all has been done to advance tropical agriculture and to intensify the use of raw materials." And simultaneously "nearly 45.5 per cent of total expenditure has been allocated for military research and development". At present, "the developed countries... dictate the trends of research and have subordinated science and technology to their interests...; and it is obvious that the transformation of present [world] relations is out of the question unless a more decisive influence by the developing countries is exerted on the... trends of scientific and technological research in the world.
"A similar position in regard to the potentials, needs, natural and climatic conditions in many developing countries calls for joint research programmes and a wider circulation of knowledge and experience among the developing countries. Collective self-reliance is the only way to develop research programmes based on alternative strategies providing for the interdependence of existing world achievements and local conditions in the developing countries. A pooling of efforts makes possible a rational use of imported knowledge and technology, which are not lacking in the developing countries and for which immense resources are spent...."
Strengthened scientific and technological infrastructures, their closer liaison with production systems and a capacity to meet the demands arising from particular needs and objectives are general requirements for prosperous social and economic development. "National efforts are being made in this direction, and bilateral and multilateral support given; but the pace of change is slow. The process is a highly complex one and closely related to a series of objective constraints." Of course, "scarcity of financial resources in developing countries is the key limiting factor in expanding mutual co-operation in different fields, including science and technology". Apart from this, however, one can distinguish several problem areas endemic in attempts at establishing technological infrastructures in the developing countries. First of all, the dependence of research institutes on the State "is natural under the conditions of the undeveloped economy and social services", but "the consequences are serious with respect to the promotion of scientific and technological research.... Motivation and stimulative measures for achieving practical results are in practice negligible, and the interest of institutes in long-term co-operation with the economic sector and other users insufficient...." Secondly, owing to a lack of indigenous knowledge and experience with material resources, the majority of institutes in the developing countries resort to developing their endogenous potential and spreading knowledge through bilateral and multilateral assistance.... [This is] very often indispensable, but it creates a basis for a more lasting dependence...." Thirdly, national R&D facilities in the developing countries are rarely located in large-scale technological systems, and they are thus severely hampered in selecting and adapting imported technical skills and equipment; they tend, in turn, to remain uninvolved in areas of applied research. Lastly, "consultancy and engineering activities, as a bridge between scientific research and practice, are today very important factors both in the utilisation and development of indigenous resources and in international expansion". Developing countries, however, remain "almost exclusively users of these services". While there is "a slow acceptance of the consultancy approach", most personnel "prefer to be involved in academic research"; and the small number of existing indigenous organisations are "strongly influenced by those in the developed countries".
The implementation of collective self-reliance for the establishment of scientific and/or technological infrastructures is itself a very delicate task; "it can be a 'bureaucratic' act which usually results in the development of 'supra-national' institutions producing their own programmes and methods of work without taking into account the interests and needs of their founders". Therefore, according to Dr Ristic, "scientific and technological co-operation among developing countries should begin with joint programmes and projects.... Long-term interinstitutional activities of national research, consultancy and engineering organisations should be the basis and by all means the most popular form of co-operation among developing countries.... [They] may also serve as a basis for the establishment of a network of institutions of the developing countries for joint programmes in specific fields at the sub-regional, regional and interregional levels."
The accelerated development of higher education in the developing countries is an important prerequisite of their social, economic and technological transformation. Yet, while, in general, "developing countries possess a far broader educational base than the developed countries had at their disposal in the early stage of their industrialisation phenomena such as cultural imperialism and the brain-drain greatly complicate matters in this field. On the other hand, a "categorical demand" has now arisen around the entire world for "a radical reform of the university system and the educational process". Co-operation among developing countries here is of special significance: "by means of joint research, exchange of experiences, exchanges of teachers and students and other forms of co-operation, it is possible to promote the concept of a new university adapted to the dynamic developmental needs of countries striving for the respect of their cultural identity and for a more equitable position in international relations."
Generally speaking, "collective self-reliance should contribute to the strengthening of the negotiating position of the developing countries in changing present inequitable relations in world science and technology". The developed countries are, of course, "equipped with their own international machinery (OECD, EEC, Comecon, EFTA)", and they "will be reluctant to abandon their monopolistic position in development and the transfer of technology and knowledge". The developing countries, on the other hand, "are gradually building up their own machinery for mutual co-operation and for strengthening their negotiating position with the developed countries"; mechanisms for these purposes include the Group of 77, the movement of non-aligned countries and various regional economic integration groups, etc. Under present conditions, however, developing countries are mainly strengthening their position "by making use of the UN development system and by organising expert meetings". The UN Conference on Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries, for example, was held in Buenos Aires in 1978; and its programme of action was adopted by both the developed and the developing countries. The implementation of such a programme is predictably "slow" and encounters "difficulties and opposition". While the total expenditure on international technical co-operation today surpasses the sum of 3 billion dollars, the share of developing countries accounts for only 4 per cent of this. Of the 800 million dollars devoted to various assistance projects within the UN development system, the mutual exchange of experts from developing countries accounts for "only 27 per cent, while subcontracting of consultancy organisations diminishes to 6.2 per cent and [that of] equipment to 2.5 per cent". Thus, a "change of policy on the part of [the international] development and financing institutions is required in order to expand the financial base of joint development undertakings by developing countries". The Third World countries, however, must take the initiative in elaborating detailed programmes and projects, for it is clear that significant achievements will only result from the organised efforts of these countries themselves.
Similarly, developing countries must work for the regulation of technology transfers by means of international legal instruments, but they must not lose sight of the fact that "these international instruments should be complementary to the national legislations of developing countries". And really enduring changes in the international system of technology transfers will ultimately be brought about only as a result of changes in the general system of world relations.
Legal aspects of the transfer of technology in modern society was the title of the position paper by Dr Vesna Besarovic, from the Faculty of Law at the University of Belgrade. In situating her topic, Dr Besarovic noted that the transfer of technology carried out nowadays between developed and developing countries is part and parcel of the general conditions of inequality prevailing in the world. Whether or not one agrees with her statement that "the fundamental cause of the existing differences is the unequal distribution of scientific and technological knowledge in the world, enabling a limited number of countries to make rational use of their natural wealth", it is, nevertheless, obvious that "inequality in this field plays an essential role in perpetuating such existing differences". All of the developing countries taken together contribute only 7 per cent to world industrial production; they are held in the position of being suppliers of raw materials, "having to import almost the whole technological basis of their national economy". Developing countries today on the average can only afford to spend 0.7 per cent of their GNP on research and development, while the much richer nations of the industrial world devote from 1.3 to 3 per cent to this end; and, of the 400 000 inventions registered annually, developing countries supply only I per cent, while the USA, the USSR, the BRD and Japan account for 73 per cent.
For the developing countries today, "the importation of technology is an imperative of economic survival" and "represents by itself no danger for a national economy". As in the case of Japan, "the dependence of national economies on the importation of technology could be a step in bridging the gap in inventive activities... on the condition that such a transfer becomes organically implanted in domestic industrial production and stimulates local creative potentials".
At present, however, the reality of technology transfer "is overwhelmingly based on pure export from developed countries.... No more than a dozen countries and approximately a hundred multinational companies possess and control all key technology. Export and import of technology neglect the real needs of developing countries, leaving them at the mercy of the big monopolies who dominate the market." The former colonial powers have transformed themselves into exporters of technology, and they are perpetuating the dependence of the former colonies in a relatively concealed manner. There are various ways in which this can be done, but "the most common method is to neglect the establishment of a satisfactory correlation between the imported technology and the traditional culture in a broader sense.... The technology imported into developing countries is often too advanced and automatised in respect to the geophysical characteristics of the country, the demands of the market and the insufficient output of production." Rather than resolving the vital problems of the nations of the Third World, "technology [thus] becomes a power which acts in discrepancy with their basic interests".
Contrary to some assertions, "the main danger for the developing countries lies not in the ability of the supplier of technology to transform it into capital, but in the use of technology in a monopolistic manner". Within this framework, comparisons between the underdeveloped countries of today and the now industrialised countries as they were fifty or a hundred years ago ring distinctly false: "the developing countries are integrated into the world system dominated by the economically developed countries" and justified by paeans to the 'international division of labour'. "The unequal technological and economic position of the contracting parties enables the suppliers of technology to have decisive control over the determination of conditions for the transfer of technology". The owners dictate not only the type of technology to be transferred, but also such particular terms as the 'tied purchase' by which they "enlarge their profit and make the position of the receiver even more subordinate, under the pretext of an efficient transfer of technology". Because "the competition on the technology market is imperfect, prices are [likewise] decided upon by the owner", who may even offer to help cover them by means of a loan. Acceptance of such loans often "makes the position of the receiver even worse", not least of all because negotiations tend to centre on the conditions of the loan rather than on the terms of the transfer of technology itself.
When turning to consider the relevance of the present legal order for the transfer of technological knowledge, one first of all must realise that, industrially undeveloped as they were, the colonial and other dependent countries were hardly involved in matters defining industrial property rights until after World War 11. Until then it was mostly "industrialists and merchants from developed countries [who] enjoyed monopolistic positions on the domestic market" (in developing countries), and consequently there was little perceived need for the registration of patents and trademarks or for national laws concerning industrial property. Later, with the attainment of national independence, most developing countries acceded to pressure to grant exclusive rights to owners of technology from the developed countries; and the adoption of the first national regulations on industrial property was strongly influenced by metropolitan interests. This influence, direct and indirect, has since increased rather than abated; and the upshot is that "the national law on industrial property, instead of encouraging domestic innovative activities and having a positive effect on the flow of foreign technology (under conditions favourable to the national economy), is, in fact, disfavouring domestic industry to the benefit of foreign technology owners from the developed countries". Attempts to modify this situation, of course, meet the opposition of neocolonialist interests.
The situation at the level of international law is similar. When the cornerstone of the present system of international protection of industrial property was laid with the Paris Convention at the end of the last century, most of today's developing countries were colonies, "and the question of their accession to the convention was solved by application of a 'colonial clause"'. Third World countries who had managed to preserve their sovereignty also acceded to the convention, acting in accord with what was considered 'progressive' behaviour at the time. Yet, although the Paris Convention had "its undeniable historical significance", even at the time of its establishment "it did not suit the interests of the underdeveloped countries". Rather, "the system of international protection of industrial property was created by the industrially developed countries, and it served as a tool for the institutionalisation of the existing monopolistic and colonial position". Yet, after World War 11, "a large number of developing countries acceded to the Paris Convention automatically..., in the ecstasy of the attainment of national independence and without an estimation of the impact of [such] international conventions on their national needs". Attempts to change the Paris Convention and the body of international law based upon it today meet inevitably with opposition, because "it is backed up by the most developed countries in the world".
In general, then, "it can be stated that both national and international law are, in the present conditions, components of the institutionalisation of the existing relations based on factual inequality in the international community and that they serve as the means for new forms of neo-colonialistic exploitation". Changes in these legal institutions are thus necessary which will allow them to "serve as instruments for changing existing relations to the disadvantage of those who still occupy stronger positions in the international community".
Let us, then, consider several proposals for useful changes in the legal institutions at the national level and then at the international level. At the national level, "the [first] precondition of any 'successful' transfer of technology from the viewpoint of the importing country is an indigenous concept of the economic development of the country and of the role of technology-transfer in that development. An insight into the capabilities and needs of national industrial production, on the one hand, and of scientific and technological realities..., on the other, are the decisive factors in the creation of such a concept." A second condition of particular importance is that of "the information possessed by the country importing technology". Can that country identify the owner of the technology that is required? Does it know whether other countries have similar technologies, so that it can test the possibilities of complementary purchases? Is it aware of possible conditions for the transfer of technology, etc.?
"The very existence of legal regulation in the receiving country is in itself stimulating, because it offers a sense of security to the foreign partner and makes the process of the transfer easier altogether. The legal rules on industrial property and on the transfer of technology ought to correspond in the greatest possible measure to the needs of the national industrial and economic development...; [and] they should [also] take into account generally accepted international law principles concerning industrial property...."
"The question of the compensation of the technology supplied could be solved by legal instruments in such a way as to make it dependent on the efficiency of the technology transferred in the developing country. In such a way both the foreign and the domestic partner will be interested in the effect of the application of technology." In many contracts concerning the transfer of technology to developing countries there are provisions for loans to cover the purchase. This is "really dangerous" for the partner in the developing country, "irrespective of restrictive conditions for the implementation of the transfer". It suits the developing countries best to acquire technology by complex international business law agreements, like the agreement on long-term co-operation in production or the agreement on joint-investment of the resources of a foreign partner into domestic enterprises.
Of particular significance for the transfer of technology is the introduction of institutional measures regulating transfer. "In most of the developing countries the import of technology is not subject to [state] control at all. On the contrary, domestic enterprises are given the initiative for concluding and responsibility for implementing contracts for the transfer of technology. This is one of the most serious mistakes made by the developing countries with respect to the transfer of technology.... Governmental and other public interest organs and institutions should have an important and, in some phases of the transfer, even a decisive role."
Changing international legal regulations of the transfer of technology "is a really difficult task accompanied by much resistance in the developed countries, which are not ready to exchange their monopolistic position for relations of equality by granting the developing countries preferential treatment". Under pressure the developed countries have periodically accepted 'small concessions' and 'compromises'; but their "basic tactic" is "gaining time" by the prolongation of discussions and negotiations. "On that account the developing countries should act concertedly; they should analyse their national problems and find a common denominator... in order to achieve appropriate arrangements on the methods and conditions for the acquisition of technology." So far, they "have not demonstrated enough understanding of the need for co-operation, but have acted independently or in small regional groupings. That only suits the developed countries." Achieving agreement among the developing countries "is not a simple task" quickly accomplished. "On the contrary, it is a gradual process of conforming needs and abilities and at the same time of bridging over differences - e.g. political, geophysical, economic, social, etc." But it is probably the speediest and most effective way for changing the rules governing the international transfer of technology.
In Dr Besarovic's opinion, "the only possible way to 'cure' the existing relations of inequality existing today is to grant preferential treatment to the subjects of the developing countries and/or to the developing countries themselves". This proposal however, has met with "considerable resistance" from the developed countries and even from some developing countries "under the strong cultural and economic influence of the superpowers". One of the most interesting questions for the developing countries at present concerns the drafting of the Code of Conduct in the International Transfer of Technology. But "a code of conduct without preferential treatment for the developing countries should be an instrument boycotted by the developing countries".
Finally, "developing countries are going to be obliged for years to come to keep on importing technology... and to strengthen their scientific-technological base". In this situation, "the lack of an international legal mechanism which could administer transfer of technology world-wide" only strengthens the monopolistic position of the developed countries and allows them "to dictate conditions which limit the development of the scientific and technological base of developing countries".
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