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Unpacking the International Technology Transfer Debate: Fifty Years and Beyond

This paper examines technology transfer and technology accumulation for development since the 1960s, with the aim of generating constructive dialogue on the subject.

The authors ask whether debates over technology transfer cater to developing countries' needs, and review how knowledge of capacity for technological innovation has changed over the past few decades. They also ask how international negotiations over technology transfer can reflect lessons learnt about how countries build technological capabilities in a changing global technology environment. The paper focuses on intellectual property rights (IPRs) — an issue which, they argue, is central to international discourses on technology transfer.

The authors conclude that in order to move forward, technology transfer cannot be discussed in the polarised terms of providing technology transfer in return for sustaining trends in global IPR protection, or by granting IPRs in the hope of technology transfer. To facilitate this discussion, they identify three linkages between technology transfer, IPR and economic development.