Unpacking the International Technology Transfer Debate
Fifty Years and Beyond
by Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Pedro Roffe
This paper captures the political economy of technology transfer negotiations since the 1960s to address two key questions. The first question is whether the debates cater to country level technological needs in developing countries. To find answers to this, the paper critically reviews the progress made in understanding the role of technology and innovation capacity for economic development over the past decades and whether these find a place in the negotiations and deliberations as we have them today. The second question that the paper seeks to address is more forward looking, with a view to make a constructive contribution towards resolving some of the most longstanding issues in technology transfer. How and through what ways can international discussions on technology transfer be made to reflect the lessons learnt up until now on how countries build technological capabilities and the challenges posed by the changing global environment for knowledge and technology?
The analysis places a particular emphasis on the technology transfer-intellectual property rights (IPRs) nexus which, in many ways, has been at the heart of the international discourse on technology transfer. The authors conclude by identifying the main issues that remain outstanding in this discourse and propose some thoughts for the way forward.
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