Technology Development and Stakeholder Influence: The Example of Golden Rice

Essay by tzz15University, Bachelor'sF, May 2005

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

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:

•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.

•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.

•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

this problem.

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.