Facing the Technological Challenge.

Author:Clark, Norman

It is interesting to note that despite the growing interest in and acceptance of the importance of the technology factor in Third World development issues, it is still difficult to find good texts that cover these issues in a way that is informative and at the same time rigorous and comprehensive. This book is both a brave attempt to fill this gap and an implicit explanation of the problem. For what it shows is that the technology factor affects development possibilities for the whole economic system in many and complex ways. Indeed, it turns out that technological change reflects the ultimate creativity of an economic system in a total, "holistic" sense, involving all relevant resources and how these are organized into institutional structures that allow this creativity full expression. A far cry indeed from the gross oversimplifications we have become used to in much of the development literature written in recent decades.

It is this complex picture that Bhalla tries to explain. And in a sense, he is well placed to do so, having been active in international policy fora for most of his professional career, based mainly at the United Nations International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva. Here he has been in a unique position to evaluate possibilities for employment growth in the Third World, bearing in mind the very rapid changes that the world economy has experienced in recent decades among which the advent of new technologies (particularly microelectronics, biotechnology, and new materials) clearly takes pride of place. In the course of his advisory work for governments in developing countries, Bhalla has been able to reflect on these and related issues and has contributed many articles to professional journals. Some of these articles, published over the last 10 years or so, form the basis for this book.

His starting point, and organizing metaphor, is that of globalization, which is defined not only in terms of international trade liberalization (arguably the traditional definition), but also more generally as the growth of integrated economic activity across national boundaries, often facilitated by the internationalization of financial markets. A particularly important form this takes (though the book as a whole also looks intensively at the small- and medium-scale sector) is that of the multinational enterprise (MNE) involving the movement of production and investment activities (and human resources) across national boundaries and...

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