Technology Diffusion and the International System


Milner, Helen V., and Sondre U. Solstad. Working Paper. “Technology Diffusion and the International System”.
technology-diffusion.pdf587 KB


Does world politics affect the diffusion of technology? States overwhelmingly rely on technology invented abroad, and their differential intensity of technology use accounts for much of their differences in economic development. Some international relations scholarship suggests states adopt new technology as they seek to avoid vulnerability to attack or coercion by more developed neighbors. We argue the structure of the international system affects the level of competition among states which in turn affects leaders' willingness to enact policies that speed technology adoption. We examine this systematically by considering states' adoption of technology over the past 200 years. We find that countries adopted new technologies faster when the international system was less concentrated, that such systemic change Granger-caused technology adoption, and that policies to promote technology adoption are related to concerns about rising international tensions. A competitive international system is an important incentive for technological change, and may underlie global "technology waves."

Last updated on 12/03/2018