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close this bookTechnological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)
close this folder7. The lessons from Asia: From past experience to the future
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentChina
View the documentIndia
View the documentRepublic of Korea
View the documentThailand
View the documentPhilippines
View the documentJapan
View the documentThe geopolitical environment and the local socio-economic situation
View the documentFormal S&T structure and industry
View the documentThe rural-urban relationship
View the documentInformal and formal sectors
View the documentNew generic technologies
View the documentSocial shaping of technology
View the documentConscious shaping of the technology
View the documentExisting agendas for shaping technology
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentNotes


The Thai report does not cover the major historical forces and constraints and the social environment discussed in the other reports. It briefly mentions some of the external influences that affected Thailand, such as the introduction of Buddhism and, later, aspects of building technology. The study mentions the beginning of the transfer of European-derived technology in the reign of Rama V. These first transfers occurred without Thailand undergoing direct subjugation by outside powers and largely on Thai initiatives, although these very initiatives were subject to a geopolitical environment in which outside powers were jostling for power around Thailand's borders.

The study concentrates more on the effects of the Thai national plans from 1961 to 1986. It notes, for example, that, under the first National Plan, "tremendous" change occurred in transportation, roads, and railways, that is, in the growth of Thailand's infrastructure. The number of educated people also increased significantly. During subsequent plans agriculture was also developed, more by extensive cultivation than by intensive effort, unlike in many other Asian countries during this period.

During the Plan periods, the private sector was encouraged to take part in industrialization under the close guidance and control of the government. But the import of technology that this entailed was done with only a minimum of mechanisms to select, control, and adapt the imported technology to Thailand's national needs.

Thailand's subsequent growth under rapid industrialization also gave rise to a strong rural-urban imbalance. The study notes the continuous growth of Thai industry during the period, but regrets that the industrialization was dependent on a heavy import component. The conclusion is that self-reliance was weak principally because of four factors: (1) science and technology was pushed from the top downwards, and there were (2) a lack of selection mechanisms to filter foreign imports, (3) inadequate efforts to evaluate R&D programmes, and (4) an insufficient link with the other sectors of the economy.