Journal of International Development Studies
Online ISSN : 2434-5296
Print ISSN : 1342-3045
The Role of University-educated Engineers in Technology Transfer
—A Case Study on the Establishment of Pohang Iron and Steel Company through Interviews to Japanese Engineers—
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2016 Volume 25 Issue 1-2 Pages 193-207


The author analyzes the processes of technology transfer from Japanese to Korean steel industries on an individual basis and corroborates that university-educated engineers of Korea contributed to the assimilation of an advanced technology as part of the social capacity of a developing nation. For this purpose, the author made interviews to Japanese engineers who had participated in the technical cooperation for the construction of the Pohang Steel Works in the late 1960s. Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) is known for its successful operation and rapid growth after the construction of the first steel works.

It is generally known that human capital is part of the social capacity necessary for acquiring advanced technologies. The author puts the focus on the role of engineers of the Pohang Steel Works who had graduated from Korean universities in the engineering field and demonstrates that the process that Korean engineers went through could not have been carried on without their contribution.

For example, even though Korean engineers knew little about the integrated steel production, capabilities to understand engineering theories and terminologies enabled them to intensively discuss with Japanese engineers on the overall construction plan in 1970, which largely contributed to the smooth construction and operation. During the training in Japan, engineers of Pohang Steel Works understood background theories of operation technologies, not the skill, and later applied Japanese technologies to the Korean steel works.

The conclusion is that the capability of university-educated engineers of Korea was necessary for the quick and smooth technology transfer and hence establishment of the integrated steel production in Korea as part of the social capacity to assimilate an advanced technology, while appropriate utilization of human resources by POSCO was also conducive to the smooth operation.

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© 2016 The Japan Society for International Development
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