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Some proposed measures on the national and international levels

With regard to the difficulties and peculiarities of each of the developing countries, and having in mind the impossibility of presenting a thorough recapitulation of the state of affairs and possible solutions, we shall confine ourselves to a few proposals devised to help increase the effect of imported technology in developing countries.

The pre-condition of any "successful" transfer of technology, from the viewpoint of the country importing technology, is an indigenous concept of the economic development of the country and of the role of the transfer of technology in that development. An insight into the capabilities and needs of national industrial production, on one hand, and of the scientific and technological realities (the fund of available technology, the conditions for its distribution in the world, etc.) on the other, is the decisive factor in the creation of such a concept. The data obtained are the basis for national development plans concerning the growth of industrial production and they denote, roughly, the kind and quantity of the technology needed in a forthcoming period.

A further consideration of particular importance is the information possessed by the country importing technology. Who owns the technology needed and whether there are other companies having similar technologies that could be also used are among the most important facts to be determined. It is also necessary to investigate the possibility of complementary purchases, seek information on the conditions for the transfer of technology, etc. All these enable the receiver of technology to achieve a degree of lesser dependence and to obtain technology under more favourable conditions.

As far as legal regulation is concerned, the very existence of this regulation in the receiving country is stimulating by itself, because it offers a sense of security to the foreign partner and makes the process of transfer easier altogether. The legal rules on industrial property and the transfer of technology ought to correspond, to the greatest possible extent, to the needs of the national industrial and economic development, i.e., to be the legal manifestation of the above mentioned concept of national economic development. Furthermore, they should take account of the generally accepted international principles of law on industrial property, striving to conform those principles to the interests of all the members of the international community.

Experience has demonstrated that it would be to the advantage of the developing countries if their internal rules were extended to regulate, inter alia, some questions which have been left aside until now: the limitation of the duration of a contract on the transfer of technology (it seems that five years could be the maximum duration); the granting of license for a trade-mark only in exceptional cases, i.e., when it is in the interest of the country and not solely of the parties to the contract; the trend of introducing provisions on the co-operation of the partners in domains of science and research in every contract for the transfer of technology; and, finally, not registering any contract containing a "grant-back'' clause. The question of compensation for 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 to the developing country. In such a way both the foreign and the domestic partner would be interested in the effect of the application of technology.

In a large number of contracts on the transfer of technology to the developing countries, there are provisions placed on the loan that is made for the purchase of the technology. This practice is really dangerous for the domestic partner who is making the contract with the particular owner of technology willing to grant him a loan, irrespective of restrictive conditions for the implementation of the transfer.

Concerning the contractual modalities for the transfer of technology, it seems more suitable for the developing countries to acquire technology by complex international business law agreements - such as an agreement on long-term co-operation in production or on a joint investment of the resources of a foreign partner with domestic enterprises - than traditional licensing agreements, agreements on patents, trade-marks, know-how, consulting-engineering, management, etc. In the traditional agreements the relations of the partners are, by the nature of the agreement, based on parity and commercial character, but that is not the case in agreements with enterprises from developing countries. The foreign partner should be induced to become interested in different forms of economic co-operation with domestic enterprises; such co-operation could be useful in many respects for the domestic partner.

The introduction of institutional measures is of particular significance for the transfer of technology to developing countries. Such measures have already been implemented in some countries, but reports would indicate that they are not functioning perfectly. In most developing countries, the import of technology is not subject to control at all. On the contrary, domestic enterprises are given the initiative for concluding and the responsibility for implementing contracts for the transfer of technology. This is one of the most serious mistakes made by developing countries with respect to the transfer of technology, but they seem not to be aware of long-term negative effects of such a policy. Governmental and other public interest organs and institutions should have an important, even decisive, role in some phases of the transfer. In the first phase of negotiations between the future partners, governmental organs would have to play an advisory role and to stimulate the conclusion of agreements that provide for the use of domestically available resources and stimulate the development of existing "accompanying" industries in the country. In the second phase, upon the registration of an agreement, governmental organs should have the decisive words taking into account the interests of a domestic enterprise and those of the whole country. In the phase of the implementation of the agreement, the role of the organs and/or institutions would also have to be significant. They could have the competence of imposing sanctions on those contractual relationships which do not implement the provisions of the registered agreement.

Instead, in a considerable number of developing countries we witness the role of governmental institutions reduced to the registration of agreements on the transfer of technology. During such registration, automatism and bureacratism are strongly evidenced. In contrast, in developed countries, where such a system of protection by governmental and societal institutions does not seem necessary (e.g., Japan, France, the United States), the system of control of concluded agreements is much more strict and consistent.

On the other side, changing the sources of international legal regulation 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 positions for relations of equality by granting the developing countries preferential treatment. The developed countries, under the pressure of the climate created in the international community, which was in turn initiated by the United Nations, give small cessions from time to time and/or accede to compromises. The basic tactics of the developed countries is gaining time by the prolongation of any process.

On that account the developing countries should act concertedly. They should analyse the national problems and find a common denominator, establish a concept of the acquisition of foreign technology, and, on the way, achieve appropriate arrangements and conditions for the acquisition of technology. Although it is stated that the developing countries purchase only one-tenth of the technology circulated by industrially developed countries, we deem that the task of such a datum is to minimize the importance attached to the creation of new rules of behaviour in the transfer of technology by developing countries. The developed countries are by all means interested in the market for technology in developing countries, and that is the principal reason for their persistent resistance to changing the existing rules.

The formulation of a common platform among developing countries would ease their acquisition of technology and lead to more equalized and equitable conditions for the transfer of technology. However, the developing countries have not, so far, demonstrated enough understanding for co-operation but act independently or in small regional groupings. This suits the developed countries.

It is certain that the achievement of the first agreements among developing countries is not a simple task that can be accomplished quickly. On the contrary, it is a gradual process of conforming their needs and abilities, and at the same time bridging over differences political, geophysical, economic, social, etc. But it is plausible that co-operation among the developing countries will influence speedier changes in the rules of behaviour in the international transfer of technology, and their changing according to the demands of the developing countries. In other words, the voice of the developing countries on the revision of existing international agreements, primarily of the Paris Convention, and on the drafting of new international conventions would be heard and respected much more.

The developing countries that are non-aligned should intensify their endeavours in that respect and prevail on those developing countries that, by their passive attitude on the question of the transfer of technology, are worsening not only their own position but the position of developing countries as a whole. Furthermore, the existing differences among the developing countries with respect to their stages of economic development should be considered, and various forms of aids should be given to the most underdeveloped countries accordingly. In such a way, the sense of co-operation among developing countries would be demonstrated in practice.

In our opinion, the only possible way to "cure" the relations of inequality existing today is to grant preferential treatment to the developing countries and/or their subjects. However, the proposal to give subjects of the developing countries treatment better than that enjoyed by the subjects of the developed countries encounters considerable resistance from the interested parties in developed countries. The opponents of the proposal are found, to a considerably lesser extent, even in some developing countries which are under strong cultural and economic influence of the super-powers. They represent themselves as the protectors of democratic achievements of the nineteenth century proclaiming universal equality and of the legal tradition in general.

The question of the exchange of information in the field of technology is often neglected in discussions on this subject. The developing countries do not attach enough significance to information, in most cases because of the lack of appropriate national services and experts, and do not demonstrate sufficient interest in that matter on the international level either. It is certain that the solution to the problem of information cannot be an overall solution in the transfer of technology, but it is certain as well that the use and disposal of information bears considerable advantage today. The fact that every year approximately a million new documents, containing descriptions of 200,000 to 300,000 inventions, are published should not be overlooked by the appropriate services in developing countries. For that reason we deem good organization of such services in developing countries, with financial and expert help from international organizations and expert bodies, really important. Furthermore, cooperation among the developing countries in the circulation of information and, finally, free acquisition of all available data in the field of technology transfer from developed countries should be additional steps.

Having the problem of information in mind, the United Nations in its seventh special session, in September 1975, envisaged the establishment of a "bank" of industrial and technological data and, eventually, the creation of regional and sector al banks in order to enable developing countries to keep up with the available and advanced technologies in the developed countries (resolution 3362). In such a manner, the activities of the developing countries in the field of information should be intensified, particularly with respect to information in the field of technology.

A detrimental circumstance for developing countries, although it may not be recognizable at first sight, is the fact that the problem of the transfer of technology is being considered along parallel lines in several international forums, on several different levels. There are separate groups of experts, and, although they are working on the same or similar questions, they co-operate very little or even have no contact at all. Thus, international action for the solution of the problem of the position of the developing countries on the transfer of technology is being watered down, and the links between the developing countries - weak as they are - are being disrupted. Finally, this duplication of effort consumes a lot of energy and resources, which is probably close to the intentions of the developed countries.

The efforts to draft a Code of Conduct for the International Transfer of Technology are one of the most interesting questions for the developing countries at present, not only because of their actuality (a recently held diplomatic conference on the Code) but also because of the scope of questions that are to be solved. The essential point has already been stressed: any code without preferential treatment for the developing countries should be boycotted by developing countries. All the rest of the principles proclaimed in the Code of Conduct such as the granting of a free flow of information, and an effective contribution to the development of a scientific and technological base and infrastructure in the developing countries - are found in other international instruments, the implementation of which has not significantly changed relations between developed and developing countries in the transfer of technology.

A question that has been in the cent re of all discussions for a long time, on which the developing countries have not finally agreed or taken a definite attitude, is the problem of universality in the application of the Code and the binding nature of its provisions. Having in mind, on the one hand, the interest of developing countries in the adoption of an international legal instrument for the regulation of the transfer of technology and, on the other, the existing situation in the sphere of possession and allocation of technology, it seems that the only possible solution is a flexible attitude towards the application of both principles - universality and binding nature. To insist on the binding nature and universality of the application of the Code is not consistent with the situation in the field of the transfer of technology, and it would have two adverse consequences for the developing countries: first, it would increase the slowing down and maneuvering; and, secondly, what is much more important, it would result in the watering down of the principles and rules contained in the Code.

Developing countries are going to be obliged for the years to come to keep on importing technology from developed countries, as well as to strengthen their scientific-technological base. The lack of an international legal mechanism to administer the transfer of technology worldwide enables the developed countries to exercise their monopoly and impose various restrictive clauses dictating conditions that limit the development of a scientific-technological base of developing countries.

In the effort to establish a new economic order, developing countries put the emphasis on the revision of existing international conventions and the promulgation of new international documents in the matter of technology transfer between developed and developing countries.

It is not surprising that developed countries are not prepared for radical changes in these matters, as they show through prolongation tactics, small concessions which usually result in vague declarations, and resolutions avoiding any concrete obligations toward developing countries.

Drawing a conclusion, we have to point out that the question of legal regulation of technology transfer becomes more and more difficult because of new social set-ups in developing countries, such as fast growing urban development, the changing role of education, and other factors that should be considered in determining the role of technology in modern society. In order to benefit from imported technology, the transfer must be adapted to national interests coexisting with national culture. International and national legal regulation has to take these factors into account.

Philosophy (concepts) of scientific and technological development

Vladimir Slambuk

Vladimir Slambuk

I. Development and underdevelopment
II. Definition of some basic terms
III. Existing philosophies of scientific-technological development
IV. Self-reliance


Conceptualization of scientific and technological development is no longer the exclusive sphere of interest of economists and experts with similar professional backgrounds. It is increasingly being studied by sociologists, political scientists and even philosophers. The reason is quite simple: Concepts and tendencies of scientific and technological development are crucially linked to the problems of overall social development. Two visions, two different concepts of development, have been generally predominant until now. The first insisted on growth, that is, on quantitative indicators. Its point of departure was in the notion that it was important to produce things: a man with plenty of goods at his disposal would have his needs satisfied. This approach was based on the view that the existing socio-economic conditions, within which such production was taking place, should not be fundamentally changed.

The second approach focused much more on the problems of development. This approach does not neglect quantitative aspects, but it insists on the change of quality of human relations. It is not important merely how much is produced, but also under what conditions production takes place. Furthermore, the purpose of production is becoming increasingly important, in terms of how it is linked to the aims of the society. This brings up the question of whether production leads to greater welfare of the people, to more democratic social and political relations, and to the development of new contents of cultural life in individual countries and in the world community as a whole. The concept of development includes problems of international relations, international solidarity, and cooperation, in both the economic and socio-political spheres. Within the framework of such a concept, the problem of scientific and technological development is seen in a new light. The search for a philosophy of scientific and technological development in this context becomes a crucial issue facing extremely diversified social communities worldwide. This paper is an attempt to help in this search.

I. Development and underdevelopment

The terms over which different concepts clash are always laden with different meanings, ideological connotations and value judgments. Where such terms as "development" and "underdevelopment" are concerned, the issue is even more complex, since their meanings are linked to different concepts of social development, to different goals. It is therefore fruitless to attempt to give a comprehensive definition of those terms. This is even more obvious if we bear in mind that most scientific studies and research projects which presently come from highly developed capitalist countries do not even use the term "development." This tendency was particularly apparent in the works published before 1975. Early works by Toffler, the Club of Rome, projections by Kahn and the Hudson Institute all of them linked directly or indirectly with the problems of scientific and technological development - do not mention the question of development. At best they talk of growth.

It is not incidental that development was not mentioned, let alone analysed, in the scientific literature which dominated the world scientific community until the mid-1970s. Changes began only after the grave energy crisis shook the West. It became clear that the goals of social progress have to be linked not only to planning, but also to certain long-term projections, which would express the essence of socio-economic changes. Such long-term strategic orientation cannot be expressed through futurologist projections, which were very popular at a certain period in the 1970s. This has to be done through the suppositions, contradictions and possibilities of development, which are contained in the day-to-day life of existing societies (states).

True enough, it should be stated that the notion of development quickly entered daily scientific, political and even colloquial parlance - naturally with diverse and often very vague connotations. The study of development has swiftly led some theorists in the more developed western capitalist countries to the concept of over development. This was supposed to designate the level of development at which the pace of further development should be checked. This concept is closely connected with the zero growth theories. All those studies have failed to define development. They generally measured development in terms of per capita GNP, or they simply talked of the more developed, modern, productive output of goods. The problem of development is thus reduced to quantitative indicators in most theoretical papers or those coming from the more developed capitalist countries. So, for instance, the Second Report of the Club of Rome gave ten categories of development, while Kahn measured development and underdevelopment by the quantity of dollars per capita (the underdeveloped countries are supposed to be those with less than US$ 400, and which import more than they export).

On the other side, an entirely different approach has developed - mainly among scientists from 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 organized. Samir Amin and other scholars from Asia, Africa, and Latin America want to prove that developing countries also have the right to a more rapid socio-economic development. In this respect they demand depending on their theoretical orientation - more or less radical changes in the mode of production both in highly developed industrialized countries and in developing countries. They generally see the current production system as an addition to the world system of exploitation. Even those views, however, do not elaborate on development to a sufficient degree, nor is it a part of a coherent theoretical concept; it is rather used as the key term. It seems, however, that the term "development" would be more adequately determined through its linkage with a deep, fundamental critique of the existing mode of production. More specifically, this critique should concern the very aims of industrialization, that is, the critique of the existing civilizational strategic orientation.

This becomes even clearer if we look at what is meant by and described as underdevelopment. There is no general agreement here either, which is probably the consequence of different roads suggested as ways to overcome underdevelopment. Apparently, there are seven basic approaches to the problems of underdevelopment, and subsequently to the definition of this term. We should constantly bear in mind that underdevelopment is mainly derived from the notion of development, as its antipode. The first fairly widespread view among some Marxists is that the problem of underdevelopment does not exist at all. Using some of Marx's writings and ideas, such Marxists claim that the developed countries now are, in fact, what the developing countries of today will look like one day. Therefore, an inevitable historical process should be followed, and the developing countries are bound to reach a high level of development. Whole volumes have been written in favour of and against this view. Marx's ideas on the possible role of co-operatives in Slavic nations and on the possibility of socialism without a prior capitalist stage in Asia also are well known. The second group of theorists advocates the same thesis, in a way, though it is negatively determined. This is to say that, in their view, the existing underdeveloped countries remain underdeveloped because they have not been sufficiently exploited. 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 (that is, developed) level. This concept of underdevelopment rests on the theory that it is necessary to go through all stages of historical development completely and thoroughly in order to achieve development, or at least what is meant by that term today.

The third group concentrates on the unequal international position of certain countries, and on the subsequent division of countries into those which are developed, and those which are not. According to advocates of this view, such division is an inevitable consequence of inequality. Samir Amin thus talks of the relationship between the "periphery" and its "metropolis," pointing out that the latter "develops auto-centrically" at the former's expense. A similar view is offered by A. Emmanuel, and A. G. Frank also insists that the role of the integrated world market is decisive. Because of such diversity of dependence theories, we may claim that it represents the fourth theoretical approach to the issue of underdevelopment. The term "dependence" is mainly used to describe a country's dependence on some decisions which are made outside its boundaries. This dependence is related to the specialization of production, to imports and exports, to the form and level of foreign investment, to technological dependence on imported technology and know-how, to foreign policy pressures, to introduction of inappropriate cultural values and Weltanschauungen, and so forth. The fifth group of theorists departs from the view that an underdeveloped society is one which is not able to reach a certain level of GNP per capita (this level varies with increases in the wealth of highly developed countries). It should nevertheless be added that, besides the level of income, other characteristics also are mentioned with increasing frequency, such as a liberal capitalism-type democracy. This approach, therefore, includes all those definitions of underdevelopment as the antipode of the welfare state or as the opposite of the consumer society. All the views mentioned so far essentially see the capitalist mode of production as predominant and underdevelopment as the direct product of this dominance.

The sixth group of authors maintains that underdevelopment is the characteristic of certain productive relations. Some Latin American analysts thus blame feudal relations in Latin America's production system for the low level of development of their countries; capitalism is therefore not seen as the sole culprit. West European literature also indirectly blames the socialist mode of production as one of the causes of underdevelopment. This is best reflected in the classifications which can be found in the works of those theorists who emphasize total historical prevalence of the capitalist mode of production over its socialist counterpart (Bell and others). Since such classification is largely descriptive, and thus conditional, it is difficult to determine whether certain views generally fall into one group or another. Let us also mention the seventh group of authors, who maintain that underdevelopment is the essential characteristic of the highly developed capitalist world. They support their claim by pointing out that social differences keep increasing in capitalist countries (creating so-called "pockets of poverty"). In their view, the consequences of capitalism - destructive as they are - inevitably lead to underdevelopment, though the system is not necessarily underdeveloped at this moment in time.

It is obvious that discussions concerning development and underdevelopment are placed within the framework of existing historical practice, mainly within the framework of the capitalist mode of production. Let us return to an earlier remark. It is doubtful whether the problem of development can be solved solely on the basis of the existing historical situation, with the capitalist mode of production still predominant in the world and therefore the framework for solving contradictions of development still not substantially altered. 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 would 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 its base exclusively in the critique of characteristics of contemporary capitalism. The direction which should be taken does not imply merely overcoming 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 dominating values and goals have to be in many respects not only opposite to but also different from existing ones. They should be based not only on the differences in the actual capacities of individuals, but also on the differences in the capacities, needs, and possibilities of individual societies. At the same time, these capacities should not be taken to mean the mere sum-total of individuals and needs. They have to have their framework and their catalyst in the unity of potentials and interests of the broadest stratum of each society: the working class, the stratum which produces new social values. The experience of socialist countries and 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. On the basis of this statement I shall proceed with my discussion of the philosophy of scientific and technological development.

II. Definition of some basic terms

There can be no doubt that today's science, and even technology (which is the applied form of science), is becoming a direct productive force. This nevertheless does not mean that there is a generally accepted view on what science and technology are.

The differences regarding science and technology, as well as their role in the development of society, depend largely on different theoretical approaches to the subject, on different visions of development, and on the role of individual social groups and classes. I maintain that science is a conscious social activity which has the task of creating a systematized body of knowledge, which is 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 is yet another term which can be explained in different ways. In my opinion, the most acceptable definition sees technology as a multitude of techniques and modes which are the outcome of scientific discoveries, which enable people to use nature in an organized manner, and which help them manage social processes.

It was necessary to formally define science and technology since all too often in different scientific, expert, and lay discussions certain properties are attached to technology which it does not have. There is a fairly widespread view which seeks 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 my view, such arguments are not compatible either with the evidence which history offers, or with the actual creative potential of humanity today. Such insistence on technological "super characteristics" of western civilization tends to overlook real contradictions of the modern world; more important still, it obscures certain solutions and roads to development which do exist. In this respect, the gathering organized by the United Nations University and Belgrade University should 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 the West.

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