Technology revolutions and social development: Prospects for a green technoeconomic paradigm in lower income countries
Peter L. Daniels
Purpose – Aims to assess the potential for a broad “green” technoeconomic paradigm (TEP) to effectively achieve and sustain higher levels of welfare from economic and environmental sources in manylower income countries (LIC). A green TEP comprises a new socioeconomic system based upon a set of inter-related technologies that increase human welfare, but focus upon saving material, energy and other environmental resources. TEPs have pervasive social and economic effects that include substantial productivity, trade competitiveness, and environmental quality advantages. The desirability of such economic change must incorporate the general approach of social economics and alternative notions of well-being. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is largely discursive in nature and provides a systematic identification of the LIC conditions that are likely to promote, and benefit from, the pervasive adoption of material- and energy-saving technologies. Some results of an exploratory cross-country study of the empirical link between technology capability and the human development index (HDI) are utilized in the discussion. Findings – The paper concludes that a green TEP may well provide a viable alternative development approach in the LICs. The main advantages are derived from related resource efficiency gains and reductions in the socioeconomic metabolism, and the benefits of a relative production factor shift toward labor (and away from materials, energy, and environment-intensive capital). The potential for LICs is also facilitated by the positive spillovers and decreasing cost of green TEP-related knowledge and technology diffusion in the expanding, decentralizing global communication network. The higher income nations would need to play a significant role in this process. Originality/value – Ecological modernisation and material and energy-saving technologies are widely viewed as essential for achieving long-term economic and social well-being improvements in the twenty-first century and beyond. Discussion of this promising approach typically assumes that this transformation is only viable in the technological and economic context of the higher income nations. However, this paper provides a detailed case for the strategic encouragement and adoption of a green TEP for sustainable economic development and environmental conditions in LICs.
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