Technology can be defined as the method or technique for converting inputs to outputs in accomplishing a specific task. Thus, the terms ‘method’ and ‘technique’ refer not only to the knowledge but also to the skills and the means for accomplishing a task. Technological innovation, then, refers to the increase in knowledge, the improvement in skills, or the discovery of a new or improved means that extends people’s ability to achieve a given task.

High technology has become like a force of nature. It transforms the economy, schools, consumer habits, the very character of modern life. Investors pour money into it; parents urge their children to study it; communities vie to attract its factories; decorators adopt it as a style; politicians push it as a panacea.
(Source : Science Digest Magazine)

Technology can be classified in several ways. For example, blueprints, machinery, equipment and other capital goods are sometimes referred to as hard technology while soft technology includes management know-how, finance, marketing and administrative techniques. When a relatively primitive technology is used in the production process, the technology is usually referred to as labour-intensive. A highly advanced technology, on the other hand, is generally termed capital-intensive.

Changes in the technological environment have had some of the most dramatic effects on business. A company may be thoroughly committed to a particular type of technology, and may have made major investments in equipment and training only to see a new, more innovative and cost-effective technology emerge.

Indeed, the managing director of a multinational organisation manufacturing heavy machinery once said that the hardest part of his job had nothing to do with unions, pay or products, but with whether or not to spend money on the latest technologically improved equipment.

Computer technology has had an enormous impact on education and health care, to name but two areas affected. The advancements in medical technology, for example, have contributed to longevity in many societies. In addition, the introduction of robots in many factories has reduced the need for labour, and the use of VCR’s and microcomputers has become commonplace in many homes and businesses.Unfortunately, there is a negative side to technological progress. The introduction of nuclear weapons, for example, has made the destruction of the human race a frightening possibility. In addition, factories using modern technologies have polluted both air and water and contributed to various environmental and health-related problems.
The future development of the international business environment depends on numerous factors, including the political en economic environment, the development of technology, population growth, energy availability and natural resource depletion. It can be expected that the gap between the rich and the poor countries will increase and that living conditions in many poor countries will deteriorate even more. The rich countries will be obliged to extend technology, food and financial assistance to the poor countries and people in the advanced countries will be engaged to an increasing extend
(Source: N F Matsuura, International Business)

Technology is a critical factor in economic development. Because of the advances of international communication, the increasing economic interdependence of nations, and the serious scarcity of vital natural resources, the transfer of technology has become an important preoccupation of both industrialised and developing countries. For many industrialised countries, the changes in the technological environment over the last 30 years have been immense particularly in such areas as chemicals, drugs, and electronics. It is vital that organisations stay abreast of these changes – not only because this will allow them to incorporate new and innovative designs into their products, but also because it will give them a firmer base from which to anticipate and counteract competition from other organisations.

Technology transfer is a complex, time-consuming and costly process, and the successful implementation of such a process demands continuous communication and co-operation between the parties involved. Furthermore, technology transfer cannot be effective if it experiences conflict with the economic and social needs of the recipient country. The agricultural development of north-eastern Brazil, for example, was largely financed by international banks and financial organisations in the 1960’s. Much of this region had been inhabited by Brazilian aborigines but it was owned by a small number of wealthy landowners. The introduction of large-scale mechanical agricultural technology in areas of the tropical rain forest of the Amazon has caused serious environmental damage such as erosion of tropical topsoil and the destruction of the natural environment of numerous birds and animals, and has displaced a large number of the local inhabitants of the forests.

Technology can be transferred from person to person, industry to industry and government to government, although the government of any country generally plays the most important role in facilitating or impeding the transfer process. Contacts amongst students from different countries are also a means of technology transfer as are journals, books, technical and professional publications, trade magazines and product pamphlets. Furthermore, multinational corporations play an important role in technology transfer by transferring information and technology from the parent company to subsidiaries in other countries, training foreign employees, etc.