Business, College of


Date of this Version

March 1980


Published in Journal of Economic Issues, 14:1 (March 1980), pp. 211– 225. Published and copyright © 1980 by the Association for Evolutionary Economics. Used by permission.


"Technology and Economic Dependency: An Institutional Assessment,"' by Thomas De Gregori, deserves serious consideration because it reaches to the heart of a conflict in holistic economic systems analysis and planning. The major issue in the article revolves around divergent views regarding technology. One is that technology should dominate society by being made the primary determinant of policy evaluation criteria. Another view is that technology should be treated as a system entity, albeit a powerful one, which must be evaluated along with others. De Gregori's conclusions are based on the first view.

This comment will consider five aspects of De Gregori's article. First, there are statements unsubstantiated by evidence. This will be demonstrated by offering contrary evidence regarding his remarks on urbanization, nutrition delivery systems, and big dams. Second, the views of appropriate technology proponents are misrepresented. Third, many of the terms used beg for definitions. These will be indicated below by the insertion of bracketed statements. Fourth, De Gregori's conclusions are based on a teleological tautology. Finally, Clarence Ayres's institutional theory is misrepresented.

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