The acquisition of technology, technological capability and technical change : A study of the textile industry in Tanzania.
This is a case-study of technological development in, and of
technology policy for, industry in one developing country - Tanzania.
It focusses on the details of technology policy at the level of a
particular sector - cotton textiles. It attempts to encompass a
range of related policy problems which are usually examined
separately: technology transfer, technical efficiency in production,
and the development of technological skills and expertise. It
examines these issues in the context of the evolution of the sector
from its origins in the mid-1960s to 1980, with particular emphasis
on the 1970s.
The cotton textile sector has been identified as a leading
sector in Tanzanian industrial development from the time of the
earnest development plans in the post-independence period. However,
policy proposals and development plans have consistently failed to
give any explicit attention to the technological dimension of the
industrys expansion. Nor have they indicated how that dimension
may be linked to other stated longer term objectives in the economy
(e.g. development of a capital goods-sector etc.). At the same
tima broad development strategies (e.g. about self-reliance) were
never articulated in a way which encompassed issues about technology.
The thesis focusses on two aspects of the development of the
sector in the context of this technology policy "vacuum". First,
through a series of major investment projects over nearly twenty
years, the sector remained totally dependent on imported engineering
services, 'capital-embodied' technology and techno-managerial services.
There was no evidence of any progressive 'learning' to supply these
kinds of technological input for investment. The thesis suggests
that considerable costs were incurred as a result of this failure to
make any movement at all towards technological 'self-reliance'.
Second, over seven years (i.e. 1973-1979) all aspects of technical
and economic efficiency in the industry consistently declined.
Contrary to common expectations about 'infant' industries there was
no 'learning' in on going production - only substantial 'unlearning'.
Finally, the thesis suggests that these two costly patterns of
technological stagnation and regression were linked, and resulted in
large part from the failure to incorporate concerns about 'technology
policy' in the process of policy formulation and development
planning - in particular from the failure to make significant
investment in 'technological capacity' for the sector. It suggests
that the returns to such investment would probably have been very
high. The thesis outlines implications for policy in this and
similar sectors, together with the need for future research and