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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 6 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2008

DEVELOPING A TECHNOLOGY ADAPTATION AGENDA FOR NIGERIA: SOME CRITICAL MANAGEMENT ISSUES

 

Osemene Kanayo Patrick

Faculty of Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile - Ife

 

Abstract
This paper attempted a concise presentation of the road map that Nigeria should follow in order to enter into the realm of industrialization and boost her export competitiveness by adapting foreign technologies.  The methodology employed included the use of secondary data sources.  Detailed analysis of how technology was leveraged to achieve economic growth and reduce poverty by some developing countries were highlighted and discussed.  Problems that hindered Nigeria’s effort in adopting foreign technologies were brought into focus.  Strategies to enhance Nigeria’s chance in getting technology adaptation process right in the future were suggested and they include an intensive development of adequate technical manpower required for adapting technology, upgrading the value of primary products, commercialization of R & D results revitalization of public-private partnership, harmonization of the distinctive competences of skilled and unskilled labour force and other positive government interventions.

Keywords: Technology adaptation, distinctive competence, entrepreneurial skill, interface agencies,


Introduction
Industrial developments that occurred in advanced economies have been attributed to a general but rapid growth in technology which was reportedly made possible through technology adaptation.  This assertion was also reinforced by the thinking that “When developing country producers small and large, successfully adopt superior production technologies (adapting them as necessary), their economy can grow; with improvements in income generation which help reduce poverty” (Leipziger, 2006 quoted in Chandra, 2006).

Technology adaptation has been defined as copy technology adapted to suit local environment or a technology that is meant to suit the whims and caprices of local populace (Momah, 1999).  That is to say, that technology adaptation becomes possible if there exist on ground an indigenous technology that can aptly fuse with the foreign technology that is intended to be copied.  The existing indigenous technology would then form the bedrock for an easy assimilation of the foreign “adaptable” technology.

No wonder the presence of indigenous technology culture was cited as one of the critical success factors (CSFs) that determined the unprecedented growth in industrialization that is now being witnessed especially across the countries of the far East Asia (World Bank, 1993).  For instance, sectoral analysis of the rate of technology adaptation revealed that many countries have leveraged technology adaptation to propel faster economic growth in areas such as manufacturing as witnessed in China and Malaysia (Bhatnagar, 2006), electronics technology in Taiwan (Mathews, 2005, Chandra, 2006), agro-industry in Chile (Morel-Astorgia 2001), agriculture and services in India (Bhatnagar et al, 1997), Fisheries in Uganda (Kiggundu, 2006), and Floriculture in Kenya (Meri and Shashi, 2006).

The above-mentioned countries embarked on an intensive and extensive technology adaptation programmes for three principal

reasons: namely, to break the vicious cycle of poverty and perhaps boost their export competitiveness (OECD, 1999); respond to competitive forces in domestic and international markets (not necessarily that they have access to government research and development (R&D) facilities and support programme); and make profit in order to ensure steady growth since technology adaptation is demand driven (Chandra and Kolavalli, 2006).

On the contrary, successive Nigerian governments had been be preoccupied pursuing the twin economic panacea called privatization and commercialization or monetization which were ostensibly prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank otherwise known as the Bretton Woods Institutes.  Interestingly, these are happening against the background that Chandra (2006) had posited that the lack luster growth that manifest in many low-income countries especially those of the sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria inclusively), has demonstrated to many economics that macroeconomic stabilization, liberalization and privatization which are vigorously pursued by their various governments are indeed necessary but not sufficient to propel the much desired growth required for full blown industrialization and development.

In addition, advocates of industrialization via technology adaptation believed that a country need a solid science and technology (S&T) policy and at the same time show strong commitment to such policy if they desire to meet their technological goals (Emovon, 1999; Faborode, 2005).  Other scholars went a step further to assert that such S&T policies should be consistent in order to last the test of time (Adeniyi and Ilori, 1996).  Sanni, et al (2001) then averred that most Nigerians S&T policies are defective in either formulation or implementation because Nigeria has not been able to come up with an adequate industrial production that can effectively compete in the global market, S&T policy consistency or not. 

This may be one of the numerous reasons why Nigeria which is literally regarded as the so called gaint of Africa with all her vast human and natural resources, has failed to record impressive results in adapting technology when compared with countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Malaysia which have been able to leverage technology adaptation for industrial growth (Momah, 1999).

Furthermore, Fakiyesi (2006:133) opined that for a developing country like Nigeria most of the required technology are available of the shelf, all that is required is the need to modify and adapt such adopted technology.  Obviously, this assertion is bereft of how such technologies could be effectively and successfully adapted.  Again, issues that boarder on adaptation of technology in Nigeria still remain largely unexplored till date.

From the foregoing, it is obvious that a gap exist which needs to be filled.  However, any attempt at filing this gap, would definitely elicit the following pertinent questions.  For example, what factors were responsible for the successful adaptation of foreign technology by countries such as Kenya and Uganda?  What reasons can be attributed to the unimpressive rate of technology adaptation in Nigeria?  Can the Critical Success Factor (CSFs) that were responsible for a successful adoption of technology by some least developed countries hitherto mentioned work in Nigeria?  What strategies can be adopted to enhance technology adaptation in Nigeria?  These are some of the posers that have attracted intense debate in recent times in academic discourse which this paper would attempt to answer.

Conceptual Framework
The disparity between per capital income among different countries was ascribed to the difference in nation’s ability to innovate and adapt technology to suit their particularly circumstances and needs (Gerschenkron, 1962).  Before then, Solow (1956) viewed technology as an exogenously produced public good that is freely available to all countries. 

Hence, he expected the per capital income of every country that has access to the same technology, to grow at the exogenously determined rate of growth in technological progress. Unfortunately, this has not been so because the technological gap that exist between nations with the same investment in physical and human capital remains a reality.

Lall, (2000), Kim and Nelson, (2000) argued that the rate of technological learning remains the major cause of disparity in adapting technology by nations.  And the rate of technological learning appears to be directly related to the know-how of how to do things which is embedded in organizational structures, firms, networks and institutions (Fagerberg, 1994, Citing Nelson, 1981).

Technology Adaptation in Some Developing Countries
A sectoral analysis of technology adaptation in some developing countries, especially the countries of the Far East Asia were carried out to highlight the notable areas of success and at the same time, give an insight into the current progress made by each country in their quest for industrialization.

Technology Adaptation in Malaysia
The adaptation and an eventual upgrading of oil palm production technologies including new varieties from Nigeria in the early seventies shot Malaysia into the technological limelight (Momah, 1999).  From crude and processed palm oil refining technologies, Malaysia was able to embark upon the production of upstream inputs such as machinery and down stream products for the oleochemical industry.  Today, Malaysia is a global leader in oleochemicals (Rajah in Chandra, 2006).

In addition, Malaysia overtook Nigeria as the world’s leading exporter and producer of palm oil in 1966 and 1971 (Malaysia, 1975; Harcharan Singh Khara, 1976; Gopal, 2001 : 122).  Malaysia (1986) argued that oil palm had become Malaysia’s leading agricultural

commodity and the third largest export earner.  Also according to Rajah Rasiah (2006) “Malaysia now accounts for about half of the world’s production of palm oil; its plantations, processors and manufacturers are generally regarded as operating at the industry’s technological frontier”.  Malaysia evolved from simple cultivation and crude oil processing to become the industry’s value – added chain.

However, the evolution of technological adaptation in Malaysia with respect to oil palm cultivation spanned six developmental phases.  These are the period of trade on ornamental plants between (1870 – 1917), the era of plantation crops (1917-1960), the period of aggressive commercialization of plantation crops of boost export (1960-1979); the era of oil palm processing (1979-1986), the period of the establishment of oleochemical industry in order to capture external market (1986-1996) and 1996 till date represents the era of product diversification and clustering (Malaysia 1986; 1996).

Malaysia has also excelled in electronics through technology adaptation.  Electronics dominate Malaysia export earnings, accounting for more than 80 percent of manufactured exports in 2000 (Malaysia, 2001, Rasiah, 2006).

The huge success recorded in palm oil production virtually pushed other primary products such as rubber, cocoa and rice into the backburner. Other problems include slow acquisition of skill, learning ability and poor pay packages for the peasants who are workers in the palm oil plantation.

Technology Adaptation in India
India moved up the technological ladder via adaptation of foreign technology in Grape making, software, maize production and cultivation.  Pre and post harvest practices were improved to produce grapes that meet EU (European Union) quality standards.  Efforts were also made to improve quality and yield of

grapes with post harvest care technologies in adherence to global phytosanitary standard (Hard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Euro Gap Compliance were vigorously pursued.

The software industry is equally booming in India.  Thanks to technology adaptation, intensive and extensive development of technical skills and tacit knowledge embedded in high-tech venture which the software industries represent, are what Indians have somehow mastered (Bhatnagar et al, 1997; Arora et al, 2001; D’costa et al, 2004, Basant et al, 2004).  The technology of assessment, diagnosis of application and problems associated with design, code writing and testing of software packages has indeed grown from process – oriented IT exports to exports of finished products (NASSCOM, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005).

Recently, India has embarked on the development of plant breeding capabilities which is evident in scientific R&D, in order to adapt foreign technologies to suit local conditions.  And India is the world largest fruit producer and the industry has a huge export potential (Chandra and Kolavali, 2006).

Despite the huge success recorded by India in economic growth, the benefits are uneven, as the poor are yet to feel the impact of such growth. Corruption is still high in most public places and unemployment remains very high.

Technology Adaptation in Chile
Through technology adaptation, Salmon farming in Chile was improved upon.  New technology helped to develop production tanks, improved feeding mechanisms, added value to infrastructure for processing eggs, Salmon Feed, Vaccines etc.  The cumulative effect of all this, are decreased production costs, improvement in the development of practices, process-related knowledge and inputs especially feed (Chandra and Kolavalh, 2006).

 

Wine making in Chile has improved through foreign adaptation of better fermentation and Grape production practices which have placed a high quality premium on Chilean wines in global market.  Chile is the world’s tenth largest wine producer and the fifth largest wine exporter having increased its share of global export from less than 0.5% in 1988 to nearly 5% in 2002 (Chandra and Kolavalli 2006).  However, one of the major draw backs in Chilean drive in technology adaptation is the weak link between salmon farmers to universities that perform agricultural R&D and train biologists, pharmacologists, marine geneticists and other human resources.

Technology Adaptation in Uganda and Kenya
Adapted technology has tremendously helped Uganda to adopt better fish processing techniques that retain fish freshness and nutritional value.  Hence, the country has been able to develop new value-added products that meet high international quality requirements and global phytosanitary standards (Kiggundu, 2006).

The production knowledge in floriculture and horticulture (flower) in Kenya has improved with the improvement in the development of adapted technology in the management of greenhouses, post harvest care facilities and the provision of chemicals and other inputs (Meri and Shashi, 2006).  This has resulted in the massive export of quality flowers to the world market.  The value of floricultural exports grew by more than 300 percent between 1995 and 2003. Kenya is the largest producer of flower in Africa (Chandra and Kolavalli, 2006).

However, in adapting foreign technology Uganda and Kenya had to continuously grabble with the common problems of gathering information needed to identify opportunities (Leipzieger, 2006); how to overcome the barriers to technology learning itself, which is tacit in nature and difficult to imbibe, the availability of the required critical

mass of firm for technology mastery and technological deepening (Lall and Urata, 2003).

Strategies for Leveraging Technology Adaptation in Developing Countries
Technology adaptation occurred in some developing countries inspite of the numerous problems that were hitherto discussed in the preceeding sections because of the presence of a “knowledge economy in which technical and managerial skills were combined with dynamic information and innovations systems that permitted firms and research centers to tap into global knowledge networks (Chen and Dahlman, 2004).

Another facilitating factor is the strong university industry linkages and high quality research (Yusuf, 2002, 2003).  The presence of higher skill, dedicated labour force and an environment that nurtures the capabilities to learn and apply new technologies which was supported by the visible and facilitating hand of government made technology adaptation a success in Malaysia, India, Chile, Uganda and Kenya (Chandra and Kolavalh, 2006).  At times, institutional frameworks were adjusted to encourage technology adaptation.

The common features in these adjustments are by:

  • Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  Generally, FDI was attracted via the creation of export processing zones (EPZs), liberation of the economy by encouraging foreign ownership, the setting up of suitable infrastructural facilities, reduction of the cost of establishment of and doing business which included granting of tax incentives.  These measures worked for the Chilean wine and Salmon industries (World Bank, 1993).  Liberalization of the economy enable technological upgrading too especially for floriculture in
  • Kenya and the Nile Perch processing industry in Uganda (Dahlmal et al, 1985).  Natural endowments such as soil, good climate and water attracted foreign investors into Kenya and Uganda (Chandra and Kohavalh, 2006).
  • The presence of a conducive macroeconomic environment.  The governments of Chile, India, Malaysia, Kenya and Uganda at different times, kept a close watch on the exchange rate of their currencies in order to control inflation, knowing fully well that the real exchange rate and inflation, remains major determinants of export growth.  In the 1980’s down to the 1990’s inflation in these countries swung between 5% to 10% and their exchange rates were fairly stable and often times predictable (World Bank 1993).  This strategy may have attracted FDI and helped the inflow of new technologies that were eventually adapted, in the desired areas.  At times a government may choose an enterprise and show case it as a leading export industry without any FDI participation as was the case with the palm oil industry in Malaysia (Chandra and Kolavalh, 2006).

 

  • Development of a critical mass of entrepreneurial talent.  Investment in and the development of human capital have been cited as critical factors in making the difference between been able to replicate rather than buy foreign technologies (Amsden, 2001).  The development recorded in some East Asia countries such as India, Taiwan and Malaysia who have been able to move up to their technological frontier were made
  • possible because they produced in large numbers (from human capital investment) well trained engineers with adequate technical and managerial skills.  Today, they have developed innovation-grade domestic technological  capabilities that can adapt foreign technologies.  Ditto for countries such as Kenya and Uganda in agro-processing and agriculture, where government investments in life sciences and biotechnology played an important role in adapting foreign technology.

 

Other Government Interventions
Most nations that are pulling their weight in adapting foreign technology, enlisted the support of their various governments who offered lucrative foreign packages to woo back its diaspora in order to deepen the pool of entrepreneurial skill as witnessed in Taiwan.  Again, many restrictive policies were initiated to protect the local industries and help increase the drive of adapting foreign technologies.  For instance, Taiwanese government came up with local content requirement policy to force foreign producers to upgrade the capacity of the local suppliers of parts and components (Noland and Pack, 2003).  Increase in tariffs and outright ban on imported goods such as colour Televisions from Japan was embarked upon by Taiwanese government so as to give Taiwanese firms time to benefit from domestic sales while building up export capability (Amsden and Chu, 2003).  Multi-National Companies (MNC’s) operating in Japan were allowed to benefit immensely from Intellectual Property (IP) right as a form of incentive to encourage the transfer of technology to the local industries.

Public – Private- Partnership
Governments of the East Asia countries encourage various forms of partnerships in order to achieve near technology parity with other developed economy.  Public-private partnership that existed between some

multinational companies and some private firms helped to improve the quality of research and development (R&D) results.  For instance, Indian government finances a variety of national and state-level research organizations to promote R&D.  Also many German Universities and Polytechnics engage in collaborative R&D under contract with private firms.  The funding sources for research institutes too are both public and private (Siebert and Stolope, 2002).

Another strategic move which the governments of India, Malaysia, and Taiwan made, was the development of industrial parks which eventually leveraged synergies between MNC’s, domestic firms and public research centre.  Industry coalitions and organizations helped to communicate the industry’s needs to government while the commercialization of R&D results was vigorously pursued.  In addition, the Japanese emphasis on continuous improvements of production process using just-in-time technology (JIT) and other quality improvement methods were of tremendous importance in upgrading and sustaining adapted technology in Japan. 

Technology Adaptation in Nigeria
Nigeria had made frantic efforts to successfully adapt foreign technologies with minimal success.  Results obtained from such efforts are indeed few and appear too far apart.  The task to supervise and monitor technological activities was rested in science and technology ministry whose major mandate is the promotion and adaptation of foreign technology through the process of copy technology.  Promotion and adaptation of foreign technology was then envisaged to be enhanced by the promotion of science and technology (S&T) through collaboration with S&T agencies in Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), Commonwealth etc and by regular bilateral and multilateral arrangements with other foreign S&T organizations (Momah, 1999).

Some Specific Achievements in Indigenous and Adapted Technology in Nigeria
One of the torterms of achievements in the promotion of indigenous technology was in the production of drugs from local plants and herbs for the management of sickle cell anaemia.  Also simple processes for de-hauling, shelling and roasting of groundnut using mechanized plants were developed. Non-wheat bread from Nigerian composite flour has been produced.  Wines from Nigerian fruits and the pasteurization of palm-wine came into being in the early 90’s.  Adhesives and gum Arabic were produced from cassava, maize, glucose syrup and corn starch.  In the petroleum industry, derivatives such as Nitrobenzene, aniline, surphuric acid and nitronaphthaline have been made too.  In addition, successful synthesis and characterization of penta-erythitol which in the main component in the production of synthetic lubricant has been undertaken (FMST, 2005, 2006).

The critical success factors that aided the attainment of the above feat were linked to the preponderance of natural and agricultural products, good climatic conditions, fertile soil and the abundance of trainable manpower.  These factors offer amble opportunities for a successful technology adaptation process in Nigeria.

Some Efforts in Adapting Foreign Technology at the University Industry Level in Nigeria
At this level, even as a pilot scheme, high quality beer has been successfully produced from the fermentation of local sorghum (Ogundiwine et al, 1998).  This effort was in response to government policy on raw material substitution which placed ban on the importation of barely malt and wheat in 1986.

Plant for malted sorghums has also been produced in place of barley malt (Momah, 1999).  Foreign technology that was employed abroad to preserve some perishable goods such as tomatoes, and pepper that incidentally are

abundant in Nigeria, has been domesticated through adapted technology (FMST, 2006).  Brime was used to preserve a highly nourishing Nigerian soft cheese (Warankasi) for a period of six weeks which ordinarily would have been best preserved for a maximum time of twelve hours at ambient temperature (Ilori, 1983, Ogundiwine and Ilori, 1990).
Through sponsorship by the International Foundation for Science (IFS) Sweden, Ilori et al, (1997) developed non-alcoholic beverages from sorghum malt and breadfruit, plantain, potatoes or sweet cassava using the endogenous enzymes of the malt and a little quality or external enzymes for saccharification.

Regrettably, these research findings are yet to be commercialized, rather they are left to gather dust in the shelves of most libraries in Nigerians tertiary institutions.

Threats to Technology Adaptation Efforts in Nigeria
The major threat to Nigeria’s attainment of technological parity with the developed economy appears to be the non-commercialization of research findings from her tertiary and research institutions.  Academic research papers are obtained mainly for routine academic promotions.  Yet, the producer – user relationship is determined by the proportion of commercializable research findings. Since the actual commercialized research results are low the link between the producer and the user remains weak (Oyewole, 2003; Oke, 2005).

Furthermore, virtually all the research institutes, universities and other higher institutes operate outside industrial structures and conduct research that are of less relevance to manufacturing firms (Ilori, 1983).  This may perhaps explain why the industry – academic linkage remains very weak.  Also, the domestic industries lack of interest in local research outputs may be why domestic industries are not keen to establish in house R&D or

patronize local academia for their research needs.  Local industries on their part lack technological innovation culture (Oyebisi et al, 1996).

Generally, the technological skill intensity (0.07%) of employees, which measures the ability of firms to generate and / or adopt new product and process technologies is low (Oke, 2005).  In addition, the ineffective networking among the Nigerian research organizations usually lead to the duplication of research efforts and waste of resources (Oduola et al, 2005).

Nevertheless, the funding of research institutes in Nigeria is very poor.  Just between 1985 and 2000, research funds averaged only 0.08% of the Gross National Product (GNP), which is a far cry from the UNESCO recommended target of 1.0% (Oke, 2005; Oduola et al, 2005).

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
Nigeria has made some efforts to adapt foreign technology and at the same time attempted to develop indigenous technological capabilities without a resounding success when compared with other developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, India, Chile etc.  The potential barriers that actually mitigated against the attainment of this lofty desire have been adequately discussed, suffices to mention that Nigeria still stands a better chance in getting it right by overcoming the so called barriers and step into the league of industrialized nations through the adoption of foreign technologies if the government show more commitment in the execution of the following critical technology management issues, namely:

  • Harnessing the diaspora: The government should channel her huge financial resources into inducing her qualified professionals who are practicing abroad or had gone for greener pastures overseas to come back home by offering them lucrative

 

  • financial packages that can at least match or even surpass whatever they may be earning in their respective countries of abode.  Their security when they eventually come back home should be guaranteed and a good condition of service worked out for them.  In addition, efforts should also be made by government to sponsor more Nigerians to learn new technologies in developed countries.  In this regard, the exchange programme under the anspices of the Technical Aid Corps should be intensified.  Through such frequent exchange programmes, acquisition of tacit knowledge through trial and error and the assimilation of technologically superior operations may be ensured.
  • Development of technical manpower requirements: As at now, Nigeria’s educational system remains skewed in favour of the development of science subjects which represent the bedrock of obtaining the critical mass needed for innovation and R&D activities in the technical fields.  However, the problem of inadequate funding of Nigerian tertiary institutions such as the universities and technical institutions by government, continue to constitute serious threats to adaptation of technology, Government should therefore, adequately fund these institutions in order to develop the needed local capabilities required for high tech and complex technology such as the software technology and electronics.  This in any case is a long term strategy.

 

  • Capital goods import: Technology adaptation can occur through the importation of capital goods in three ways viz: (a) materials transfer from imports such as seeds, machines and turnkey factories, (b) design or prints
  • transfer, formulae and manual but the host country must have the engineering capabilities to handle these imports; and (c) capacity transfer, which boarders on the transfer of scientific knowledge and technical capability.  However, the host country should have the educational training, scientific and technical capacity to adapt such new technologies for local use (Ruttan, 2001).  The above three requirements could be met if the respective industries in the country encourage the formation of technology-based strategic alliance between them and foreign multinational corporations operating within and outside the country (Osemene, 2006).  The government can be a mere facilitator of the alliance process through certain appropriate policy measures that would encourage alliance formation.

 

  • Encouraging the sustenance of public – private partnerships (PPP): The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo at the twilight of his regime, in 2007, made some efforts to strengthen the existing partnership between the public and private sectors, by urging the private sector to activitively participates more in public oriented projects initiated by government.  The avalanche of some late privalization exercises (though shrouded in controversy) that were embarked upon by his government attest to this effort.  The impact of such an exercise is yet to manifest.

 

However, strong domestic research capabilities are facilitated by PPP in acquiring, absorbing and adapting new technologies.  For instance, PPP helped India in the massive production of generic drugs that are not only

 

cheap but also cost effective (Economics Intelligence Unit, 2005).  In addition, the private sectors have certain skills and abilities that the public sector lacked, including the ability to manufacture large numbers of products to very high standards.  (Mahoney and Morel, 2006). Salmon and Wine production in Chile benefited immensely from PPP which helped to leverage technology adaptation for economic growth.

  • Upgrading of primary products: Value addition to primary products enhances the quality and revenue deriable from them as secondary products.  Yet most Nigerian products are still being sold in primary forms and modes Enhancement of quality require some technological inputs which in most cases are alien to our environment and therefore outside our capabilities.  To acquire such foreign skills there is the need to copy and adapt foreign technologies.  Malaysia upgrade palm oil production technologies to high-grade oleochemical technology to obtain secondary products whose sales have enhanced the economic growth of Malaysia and made their products very competitive in the global market.  Fortunately, Nigeria has many primary products from the agro industries such as cassava, maize, yam whose value should be upgraded.  Nigeria can indeed enter into the league of technologically advanced nations through the upgrading of agricultural products which are in abundance too.  The high compliance with the government’s policy on local raw material substitution by the MNC’s especially in the brewery industry is an added incentive to adopting, foreign technology. Import restriction policy and the granting of tax relief to foreign companies operating in Nigeria should be strongly implemented.
  •  Commercialization of R&D results: Research outputs that are allowed to rot away in library shelves are useless and a waste of human and material resources.  The private sectors and industries who are engines of economic growth and drivers of a technology-oriented economy are in a better position to commercialize research outputs which in most cases, are generated from the universities and research centres.  The linkage between the universities and the industries should be strong and narrow in order to facilitate and ensure free flow of information between them.  This would enable the universities to undertake researches that would be of interest and relevance to the industries.  The latter should also develop confidence in the quality of local research results.  Facilitating agencies that should strengthen this linkage between the academic and the industries are the interface agencies, broker organizations and bridging institutions.  They too, should be encouraged to flourish.

 

  • Adequate funding of R&D institutions: The present state of decay and neglect of the numerous research institutes in the country which is due to inadequate funding by the government is totally unacceptable.  Good results should not be expected from institutions with dilapidated infrasture.  Adequate funding would facilitate the production of the critical mass of entrepreneurial skill required for the proper understanding and copying of foreign technology.

 

  • Integrating the distinctive competences of the skilled (professionals) and unskilled (artisans) workforce: Extreme polarization of technological potentials among our workforce may
  • have made it impossible to successfully blend theorem with the art of doing things.  The professionals who have various degrees and awards no doubt are experts in theory but in most cases deficient in the practicals going by the pattern of our educational system.  For instance, there is nothing wrong in asking a mechanical engineer to work with and perhaps under study how a road-side mechanic overhauls car engines.  In doing so, the practical skill would have been passed on to the engineer who in turn would educate the mechanic, the basis of what he does.  This cross-fertilization of knowledge may enhance their skill intensities and place them in a better position to learn and even copy foreign technologies.  Even in high and complex technology such as electronics, artisans in Taiwan played crucial role in adapting such technology while working in conjunction with Taiwanese professionals.

 

Nevertheless, the modalities of how to co-opt the professionals and make them work together with the artisans should be well spelt out.  This, obviously, is beyond the scope of this paper but could as well form an agenda for future research.

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