Development thinkers of the past and the present as well as several empirical studies have suggested that â€œTechnology has been the single most important source of economic development and growthâ€. It has regarded as the vehicle for economic expansion and its absence for the decline. One has called attention to the view that â€œThe international balance of technology is as important as the old standbys, â€˜the balance of tradeâ€™ or â€˜the balance of paymentsâ€™ â€“ and mat be more so.â€
The International Scene:
At the international level technology has been transferable from one economy to another, but the transfer has involved a cost that in many countries has been too prohibitive to permit the transfer in response to market conditions. Obviously the technology which is capable of giving a competitive edge or comparative advantage is not given away free.
Secondly, the cost and ease of technology transfer is a function of the gap between the levels of technology in the economies between which the transfer takes place, the time horizon, and the context or the socio-political and economic environment.
Technologies as marketable commodity are continuously being produced and improved to meet the ever-increasing demands off contemporary societies. It is specifically generated for achieving a competitive edge in the international market. Developing countries like Bangladesh mainly export primary goods to the developed countries, while they import mostly manufactured goods with high technology content. While the prices in the international market of the high technology content products have been increasing steadily, the prices of primary products of low technology content have been fluctuating widely.
Near monopoly of the developed countries in science and technology has been given them a position of world dominance. Developing countries have to be content with technology that is the product of development efforts in countries other than theirs. Consequently, technological dependence is an ever growing phenomenon in many of these countries. Thus, technology application poses problems for the developing countries that are not faced by the developed ones. The problems originate from the differences in the socio-economic and technological levels of the country buying a technology and the country producing and selling it. The country which depends on the export of primary commodities is in deep trouble with balance of payment problems. Worse still, the comparative resource advantages of some of the developing countries are in peril without adequate technological development.
Cheap unskilled labour in the developing countries has, in the recent past, been considered a comparative advantage for producing goods in some relatively labour intensive industries. In this context there has been wholesale transfer of certain manufacturing facilities from the developed to the developing countries. But such advantages may be short-lived and may prove to be illusory, because the introduction of new technologies is likely to reduce the need for cheap unskilled labour. Thus, utilization for emerging technologies (such as robotics, computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing and information technology) will significantly reduce the need for subcontracting labour-intensive production to developing countries (such as garment industry, consumer electronics and assembly plants).
Technology has been referred to as a saleable commodity with a price tag attached to it. Another view has been expressed that technology is being marketed between the developed and developing worlds not even as a commercial article but with a modality which has some resemblance to the leasing of land under feudal conditions.