Technology development and implementation include social processes where various
stakeholders voice their interests and concerns: stakeholders influence the process of
technological advance in a variety of ways. These interests and concerns, in turn, are
shaped by the stakeholders' institutional context.
Organisations involved in technological development have to acknowledge and integrate key
stakeholders in order to promote the process in a successful way.
Important elements of such an engagement are:
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Identifying key stakeholders: Mitchel, Agle and Wood (1997) propose 'power',
'legitimacy' and 'urgency of claims' as factors to rank stakeholders according to their
importance for the organisation.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Assessing the key stakeholders' perceptions: new technologies are associated with
uncertainty. The organisation and its key stakeholders will differ with regard to
knowledge about a technology. Perceptions, however, are based on knowledge and
one's frame of reference. Thus, differences in perceptions partly might derive from
asymmetry of information. In that case, providing information could lead to an
approximation of views.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Assessing the key stakeholders' interests: the development and implementation of
technologies are associated with a variety of interests. Usually, not all interests are
complementary or neutral to each other. Depending on the nature of interests,
different patterns of interaction between the organisation and its stakeholders may
occur, (Covey and Brown 2001). Conflicting interests require the negotiation of the
features and paths of technologies' development and may involve compromising.
Thus, differences in perceptions require the willingness to learn from each other and
differences in interests require the willingness to compromise (Weisenfeld 2003) - two
objectives which could be quite difficult to achieve.
If the parties involved have a different cultural, economic and social background it may be
even more difficult to achieve an agreement on how the technological development and
implementation should proceed. Especially if a technology is to be transferred from one
country A to another (less developed) country B, A's stakeholders may misunderstand or reinterpretate
B's stakeholders' claims and vice versa. Our example 'Golden Rice' will illustrate
Genetic engineering applied to plants is a technology which is being discussed vigorously
and in a very controversial way. The debate covers economical, ethical, health and social
issues and stakeholders from industry, the scientific community, civil society and government
take part in the discussion. Thus, the debate involves many stakeholders who do not
necessarily share perceptions and interests associated with the technology. Rather, they
differ with regard to their interests in and their perception of this application and try to
influence its development according to their objectives (Hunck-Meiswinkel 2005).
'Golden Rice' is an ongoing project with technological and market uncertainties, coupled with
technology transfer problems. It serves as an outstanding example for the importance of
integrating key stakeholders into technological progress. We use the example of 'Golden
Rice' to demonstrate the nature and impact of stakeholders' involvement in technological
development and the transfer of a technology.