Perhaps the key prerequisite of economic development of a country is the hopefulness of a country to access to the technological advancement and innovations that seek to adapt this technological knowledge to the needs of marketplace for economic gains.
Most of the economically developed economies mostly are technology influenced; thus, the role of technology in economic development of a nation cannot be ignored. Technology is an intangible body of knowledge by which humans modify nature for the purpose of production process for an economic development. Technological advancement of a country minimizes cost, increases production efficiency, and creates the capacity for better living standards for its people (Technically Speaking, 2010, Para. 1).
Economic development can be defined as an increase in the per capita income of a country where the spending of its per capita income is on consumer durables and products related to leisure activities as opposed to much spending on basic needs such as food. Hence, a country with high per capita income and spends more on basic needs cannot be described as an economically developed county.
A major component of economic development is the citizen’s involvement in economic development process to revolutionize the basic structure of the economy of their country. However, foreign investment is in general unavoidable, for the increase in the real per capita income to be said as an economic development, the citizens of that country must play a part in the production process itself other than just enjoying the economic benefits because of increased per capita income.
Source: Ministry of internal Affairs and communications
Japan being one of the developed economies, with a per capita income of above $10,000 in the year 1985, it is important to discuss the role technology has played in its economic development.
Although other sectors have also such as Agriculture and other service activities have played a key role as it can be shown in the figure below which shows the economic contribution of each economic activity in the year 2008. Technology has enhanced more product production through increased technological efficiency, capital formation, research and development, intellectual property rights and good organizational techniques.
Source: Ministry of internal Affairs and communications
Technology has played a key role in revolutionalizing Japan’s production efficiency in both mining and manufacturing sectors. Japan Production process is carried out with the help of machines to produce more of it products, but with the advanced technological efficient production of more and more of its products for both domestic and export has been realised , resulting to the increase in its Gross Nominal Product.
It’s continuous increase in efficient methods of producing new products in the market, thus raising its national income , has resulted to its sustained economic development. The growth in productivity has come from changing methods of production and increase in efficient use of its resources.
This is one of distinguishing important factor for Japan economic turnround during the industrial revolution as more efficient organisational and production techniques were establishment and the take-off of new innovations (Sahu, 2006, Para .3-19).
Research and development
Technological advancement of research and development has contributed to economic development of Japan. Since technology is a lifecycle which after a certain period of time it loses the economic value, Japan has been in the forefront to replace its technology with the newer ones to increase its product production frontiers through investment in research and development.
However, research and development has not been a smooth process, it has taken time before certain innovations diffuse in its economy where the most important technology had a modest impact at its initial stages. The full economic development potential of a new technology development can only be realized after the capability of the technology has been researched and developed.
Japan used their technology themselves and as the technology became cheaper and widely diffused which later translated to a reduced resources cost. In an estimate, research and development in automotive industry resulted to Japan economic growth of more than 10 percent in the year 1950 to 1960 as shown below on the graph (Ministry of internal Affairs and communications, 2008, Para. 1-4).
Source: Ministry of internal Affairs and communications
The application of new technological ideas for example increased efficiency of Japan manufacturing industries, along with the cost accounting represents a rebirth of a new knowledge of scientific management, which has marked an increased rate of technological revolution to reorganize the industry based on improved efficiency for economic growth (Jurica, & Tica., 2006, P. 8). This is based on study of scientific knowledge to plan and reorganize both human and non-human capital.
There has been a change in technology to meet the best economic practices for example, during the first industrial revolution in Japan, most of the technological innovations and inventions were based on trial and error methods, but as the economy and operations improved, the trial and error methods was not adequate any longer to meet it’s economic development.
Hence, the second industrial revolution which brought about research and development purposely to deal with the law of diminishing returns of trial and error methods such as the use of advanced laboratories to test materials and processes with aim of meeting the constant increase in competition among manufacturers, and serve the widening markets were introduced both in the private and public sectors.
To this point, the utilization of new technologies from the previous technologies of industrial revolution era through research and development continues to play a key role in Japan economic development. For example, a major invention of the second industrial revolution such as internal combustion engines technology is still being utilized by the automotive and power production industries with some improved technological features; however, the main principle and ideas are just the same.
Japan capital formation purposely for production process has played a key role to its economic development. Capital formation is based on the development or generation of a required level of savings and then investing the savings to assets such as machines, plants and human capital.
After the Second World War, Japan had a financial shortage and it needed to create capital to generate the targeted industrial growth hence, the need for foreign capital was necessary. The important role of capital savings and its investment to spur economic development of a nation cannot be ignored. By approximation, more than a half of Japan’s national income during the year’s 1969 to1980 was because of increased capital input alone to its economy (Whaples, 2010, Para. 1).
Its creation of a pool of a technological human capital mainly in the high technology sector has been a driving force of its economic growth. Investment in technological skills has greatly increased in general, and the level of technological literacy on its citizens, which has definitely improved its atmosphere for a technology-driven economic growth.
A very significant unique characteristic of Japan economic revolution was due to the professionalization of its industries functions, for example, the administrative, technical and managerial are clearly distinguished along with the recognition of the qualification requirements for each functional unit in the industries.
Technologically literate communities are able to recognize that technology as the basis of its economic development hence, acceptance and support of educational training and research as a foundation to support technology for economic development.
The development of equipments and machines which are of high technological standards required a highly technical individuals to construct and operate these machines hence reinforcing the necessity of developing both human and non-human capital to facilitate economic development.
The economic development is not only because of a pool of technically labor capacity, capital formation, or efficient use of resources and machines, but rather to the organization techniques.
This organizational techniques provided possibilities to engage and manage a large number of workers as well as capital to work under supervision and discipline as a result of increased scale of operations; organizational techniques has acted as a bridge between technology advancements and economic growth for economic development of Japan ( Jurica , & Tica., 2006 P. 3-13 ).
Legal frame work that support techno- economic environment
It is generally acknowledged that abundance of capital savings and its investment in an economy, good organizational techniques and extensive research and development of a country cannot warrant for its increased economic development particularly if there is lack of a good regal framework to protect its technological capabilities.
The Japanese Protection of domestic research and development innovations and inventions through intellectual property rights policy is a clear indication the crucial role technology plays in economic development.
As its economy become proficient at adapting foreign technical input to its local environment, lack of intellectual property rights may scare away potential innovative firms from investing to its economy because of fear of losing their inventions, hence the investors will not able to make economic gains from their inventions and innovations.
But more significant, Japan developed a legal structure for intellectual property rights which guarantees the needed protection to give confidence to the innovators and inventors to fully reap from their effort; which is an indication that the Japanese economic development appreciates the significance of technology and the value of use of the new technological knowledge in the production process.
These laws relating to intellectual property rights act as a complement support to independent technological learning capacity which is there specificaly to develop technology ( Cypher, & Dietz., 2008, P. 422-438).
Japan economic development in the present, is dependent on the policy frame work put in place there before; which has now shifted its economics path dependency to technological advancement by embracing technical education and science. Its economic policies have acted as a balance to both private and public sectors efficiency by gratifying technological competency, rather than depending import of technological artifacts, which might not give the full benefits of technology to its economic growth.
In conclusion, for economic development to take place, technology in terms of capital formation, research and development, Organization techniques and a good legal framework must be in place. Economic development is a continuous process so the developing and the developed economic states must be able deal with the challenges of creating of independent technological learning capacities as an essential component for sustained economic progress.
To a great extent, most of the disparity in per capita income among countries is as a result of existence of a technological gaps between nations individual capacity to advance its technology for economic gains and to close these gaps, it requires an economy to alter its development plans to employ new policies at the macroeconomic level with an intention of stirring a nation to a different path with time.
Whatever happens in an economy in the present time is dependent on the direction taken and being the outcome of the previous decisions made which have an effect on expenditure on educational training, research and development, and technological efficiency of domestic work force, requires a greater consideration to be given to factors which have the capacity to capture the world pool of knowledge for local production process.
In an attempt to narrow the technological gap, national technological learning capacity must be developed of which its learning and production process should be locally controlled by creating an authentic original technological autonomy in which its domestic professionals become the carriers and agents of technological knowledge to the next generations of research and development professions such as engineers and technicians.
However, it should not imply that each nation has to develop it technologies independently in order to advance economically or exclusively depend on the other national’s technological advancement. Rather integrate the world diverse technological advancement for economic gains at the same time concentrating on the creation of local technological learning capacity that can enable that country gain the global knowledge contribution for local economic development needs.
Cypher, J., & Dietz, J. (2008). The process of economic development. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Jurica, S., & Tica, J. (2006). Historical Perspective of the Role of Technology in Economic Development. . Working paperSeries. 6(10), 1-13.
Ministry of internal Affairs and communications. (2008). Statistics Bureau,Director-
General for policy planning, Statistical Research and Training institute. Retrieved 16 November, 2010, from Statistics Standards: Handbook Web site: http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook/c03cont.htm
Sahu, P. A. (2006). Economic Development. Retrieved 16 November, 2010, from Reference for Business:Encyclopedia of Business.
Technically Speaking. (2010). What is technology. Retrieved 16 November, 2010, from National Accademic of Engineering: The National Academy of Sciences.
Whaples, R. (2010). Japanese Industrialization and Economic Growth. Retrieved 16 November, 2010, from EH.net: Economic History Services
Web site: http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/mosk.japan.final