Economic Development and Technical Capabilities

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 11.167 (Spring 2004)
Course Title: Economic Development and Technical Capabilities
Course Level: Undergraduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Urban Studies and Planning
Course Instructor(s): Prof. Alice Amsden
Course Introduction:
Syllabus Description

The economic growth of developing countries requires the acquisition of technological capabilities. In countries at the world technological frontier, such capabilities refer to cutting edge skills to innovate entirely new products. In developing countries, the requisite technological capabilities are broader, and include production engineering, project execution and incremental innovation to make borrowed technology work. Theories of technology acquisition are examined in this course.

The empirical evidence is taken from two sets of developing countries; the most advanced (Taiwan, Korea, India, China and Brazil) and the least advanced (Africa and Middle Eastern countries).


Grades are based on a take-home final (handed out the final day of class and due back 48 hours later) and a 15 page double-spaced paper (due the day the final exam is officially scheduled to occur). Classroom participation is encouraged.

In addition, students must make presentations in class on an industry/technology that a developing country is trying to promote (eg., the software industry of India, the biotech industry of Taiwan). Papers may be based on the same topic as the classroom presentation.