Appropriate Technology

When I began my career in the early 1970, technological progress and innovation were overwhelmingly concentrated in the high-income countries. Developing economies were confronted with what seemed to be a Hobsons choice – to either use inefficient technologies or to use highly inappropriate technologies imported from the high-income world. Appropriate Technology was tainted with the accusation that it would confine low income countries to servitude and poverty. AT was widely characterised as a ‘plaything’ of a patronising liberal elite in the rich economies. But this Hobsons choice was an untested assertion and much of research enquiry in innovation studies and industrial policy during these early post-war decades was devoted to exploring the range and character of the choice of technique and the consequences this held for a more inclusive trajectory of economic and social development.

Since then, however, there has been a massive growth in innovative capabilities in the developing world, and especially in emerging economies. What possibilities does this open up for more inclusive growth paths? Does the growth of capabilities in the developing world provide the scope for more South-South trade and cooperation? Does the transition to the ICT Techno-economic Paradigm provide opportunities for new innovation trajectories and more inclusive development paths?

In the list of publications below I highlight what I consider to be my significant contributions to this agenda.


‘Schumacher meets Schumpeter: Appropriate technology below the radar’, Research Policy, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp.193-203, 2011.

’Innovation and Uneven Development – The Challenge for Low- and Middle-Income Economies, Research Policy,, 2021. (with E. Kramer-Mbula).

‘South–South Trade in Capital Goods – The Market-Driven Diffusion of Appropriate Technology’, European Journal of Development Research, pp. 1-18, doi:10.1057/ejdr.2016.18, 2016. (with R. Hanlin).

The Economies of Small:  Appropriate Technology in a Changing World, London:  Intermediate Technology Press, 1990.

‘Inappropriate Products and Techniques in UDCs: The Case of Breakfast Foods in Kenya’, Review of African Political Economy, No 14, 1980.

‘Inclusive innovation: an architecture for policy development’, Innovation and Development Vol. 4 (1) DOI: 10.1080/2157930X.2013.876800, 2014. (with J. Chataway and R. Hanlin)

Below the radar: What does innovation in emerging economies have to offer other low-income economies?‘, International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development, 8(3), pp. 177–197, 2009. (with J. Chataway, R.E. Hanlin, N. Clark, D. Kale, L. Muraguri, T. Papaioannou, P.E Robbins and W. Wamae).

Sugar Processing: The Development of a Third World Technology, London: Intermediate Technology Press, 1983.

An International Comparison of the Choice of Manufacturing Techniques in the Production of Cans in Kenya, Tanzania and Thailand, Geneva: ILO, 1974 (with C. Cooper and R. M. Bell)

Secondhand Equipment in a Developing Country: A Study of Jute Processing in Kenya, Geneva: ILO, 1973 (with C. Cooper).

‘The impact of the Asian drivers on innovation and development strategies: lesson from Sub-Saharan Africa experience’, International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 65-81, 2007.

‘Indigenous Technical Change and Appropriate Technology:  What We Can Learn from Sugar Processing, World Development, Vol. 12 No. 4 pp. 419-432, 1984.

‘Small Scale Sugar: An Overview’ in Brooks, Jones, Kaplinsky and McChesney, The State of Small Scale Sugar, London, Intermediate Technology Press, 1989.

‘Appropriate Technology in Sugar Manufacturing’, F Stewart (ed), Macro Policies for Appropriate Technology, Washington ATI 1986.

‘The process of indigenous technical change’ in M. Carr (ed), The AT Reader Theory and Practice in Appropriate Technology, London, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1985.

‘Appropriate Technology and Development’ in UNITAR Working Series on Technology Domestic Distribution and North South Relations, New York UN, 1981

‘Small Scale Industries and International Economic Cooperation:  The Kenyan Experience’ in UNIDO 2000 – New Perspectives, Collected Background Papers Vol 6, 1979.