Jörg Meyer-Stamer

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Four Pillars of Technological Capability

We define technological capability as the capacity to gain an overview of the technological components on the market, assess their value, select which specific technology is needed, use it, adapt and improve it and finally develop technologies oneself. This is a skill possessed both by direct producers (farmers, workers) and also decision-makers (in companies, in state agencies). Technological capability is the prerequisite for independent technological developments but also for successful technology transfer. For us the term technology also involves organisation and know-how, and a country's own independent technological efforts and technology transfer are not alternative options but complement each other. A common feature of both organisation and know-how is that they can only be partially transferred.

There are four pillars on which technological capability is based:

1. The skill of the producers to imitate and innovate;

2. The economic, political, administrative and legal framework conditions, which determine whether incentives to develop technological capability exist. In the past, it was often not recognised that these incentives do not exist in many developing countries, especially if an import substitution policy relieved companies of all pressure to be competitive or to innovate;

3. Direct support by technology-oriented state institutions or specific types of service companies - depending on the given development level, the competition situation and the characteristics of a technology branch in the given country;

4. Indirect support by the educational system; in addition to a sound basic education it is important that technical training of a suitable quantity and quality is available at the secondary-school level and also in the universities.

The close interaction between these four pillars creates technological capability: If framework conditions are not conducive to innovations, learning processes are very arbitrary and take place with a time lag. Successful innovation systems are characterised by close networking between producers, technology institutions and training institutions.