CASTOR, BELMIRO VALVERDE JOBIM; PHD

                         UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 1982

                         POLITICAL SCIENCE, PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (0617)

                         This dissertation examines the appropriateness of the technology choices that take place within social
                         systems from the standpoint of the public administrator and policy designer. It is contended that, in
                         market economies, the choice of technologies is guided by what producers and consumers of goods
                         and services perceive as economically efficient means of fulfilling needs, neglecting the fact that some
                         technologies are more able than others to contribute to the overall quality of the social systems where
                         they are applied. The concept of economic efficiency is discussed and shown to be extremely elusive,
                         leading to serious misperceptions and inappropriate technology choices. A multidimensional approach is
                         advocated which, besides economic efficiency, also takes into account the environmental, social,
                         cultural, and organizational aspects of social systems, with a consequent enhancement of the quality of
                         life of the members of those systems. The case of developing countries is especially featured, and it is
                         contended that current theories of development systematically neglect the importance of a
                         multidimensional approach in the choice of technologies for allocative prescriptions. The Social Systems
                         Delimitation Theory, as articulated by Alberto Guerreiro-Ramos, is considered as providing a sound
                         conceptual basis to guide the technology choices and the allocative process employing such a
                         multidimensional approach. The concept of appropriateness of technology is discussed, both from the
                         standpoint of market theory and from the perspective of alternative responses. Relevant contributions to
                         the subject are reviewed and a series of criteria for the assessment of appropriateness of technology is
                         proposed. After treating the issue conceptually, an illustration is presented: the case of a radical
                         socio-economic and technological change experienced by Parana, a Brazilian state, during the last
                         twenty years, namely the change from a coffee economy to capital-intensive agriculture. The conceptual
                         scheme outlined earlier is applied to the case and an assessment of the appropriateness of the
                         technology choices is made. The study concludes by analyzing the utility for public policy formulation of
                         the type of multidimensional assessment of technology choices illustrated in the dissertation.


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