Technological inclusiveness: Northern versus Chinese induced technologies in the garment industry
The Northern economies have been the main sources of technologies for the global garment manufacturing industry. Over the past decade, China has become an important alternative source of these technologies offering a range of technological choices for small scale and dispersed production of cheap consumer goods, particularly in the developing world. Preceding a national foresight exercise aimed at enhancing the capabilities of small-scale garment producers in Uganda, we examine the potential ‘inclusiveness’ of garment sewing machines imported from the Northern economies and China, and their individual potential to enhance the capabilities of poor garment producers, particularly, women and rural dwellers. Data for our study included a survey and semi-structured interviews with 147 garment firms and other key informants. Compared to the Chinese sewing machines, we found that the Northern machines have high acquisition cost, relies on scale and advanced infrastructure, and tend to exclude poor rural producers (often women). The transfer of Chinese technologies to Uganda, we also found is much easier, have larger spread effects, leading to smaller gaps in technological know-how between China and Uganda because of the context in which Chinese technological innovations are induced. We conclude with some implication of our study to theory and policy.