National Orientation
NSF 95-309

National Orientation

The national orientation indicator attempts to identify those nations whose business, government, and cultural orientation encourage high-technology development. This indicator was constructed using information from a survey of international experts and published data. The survey asked the experts to rate national strategies that promote high-tech development, social influences favoring technological change, and entrepreneurial spirit. Published data were used to rate each nation's risk factor for foreign investment over the next 5 years. (See Frost and Sullivan 1993.)

Singapore outscored the other Asian NIEs on each of the components that comprise this indicator. (See figure 19.) The national orientation ratings for Taiwan and South Korea are nearly equal, although each country's composite score is built on different strengths. Taiwan edged out South Korea on the composite score, as the published data rated Taiwan a better risk for foreign investment than South Korea and experts surveyed gave the edge to Taiwan in "entrepreneurial spirit." On the other hand, experts felt that, compared to Taiwan, South Korea had a more explicit government strategy to promote the production of high-tech goods for foreign consumption and had basic societal characteristics (cultural, religious, and/or industrial) that more closely associate technology with desirable social development. Hong Kong's composite rating for the national orientation indicator trailed that of the other three NIEs. Although it, like Taiwan, received high ratings for "entrepreneurial spirit," the uncertainty created by its pending merge with China affected its scores on the variables related to risk investment and experts' judgments of cultural and social attitudes toward technology.

Figure 19

Three of the four emerging Asian economies (China, India, and Indonesia) scored quite low on this indicator. Their scores were diminished by experts' comparatively low judgments of their cultural and social attitudes toward new technology and entrepreneurship. India had the lowest overall score of these three EAEs, primarily because it was rated a riskier prospect for foreign investment and was perceived as having less deliberate government strategy to promote high-tech industries.

Malaysia is pulling ahead of the other EAEs in its national orientation toward achieving future technological competitiveness. Across the full range of variables considered, Malaysia's scores were consistently and significantly higher than the other EAEs' and were well within the range of scores accorded to the more advanced Asian NIEs.

New Leading Indicators of National Technological Competitiveness

How can a country's future technological competitiveness be determined? An ongoing series of research projects, begun in the mid-1980s, is aimed at answering this question by developing new indicators of national technological competitiveness. This NSF-supported research is being performed in three phases at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In the study's first phase, the researchers created a conceptual model involving a set of composite indicators that could be used to assess current and future national competitiveness in technology-based product markets. They operationalized the model by combining, for each indicator, various quantitative data with expert-derived measures. To obtain the expert input required, the researchers designed a survey instrument consisting of 14 closed-ended questions. Corresponding to the three phases of the research, surveys were sent to samples of country experts during 1987, 1990, and 1993; these experts were selected based on their knowledge of the technology policies and socioeconomic conditions in the countries studied. Generally, the survey items discriminated well among countries, and the mean standard deviation of responses to individual questions within countries was less than one on a five-point scale. (See Porter and Roessner 1991 for details of survey and indicator construction and Roessner, Porter, and Xu 1992 for information on the validity and reliability testing the indicators have undergone.)

In the first phase, 20 countries were studied. In the second phase, overall country coverage was expanded to 27 and alternative formulations of the indicators were explored. The third phase of the research effort is currently under way; this phase involves further model refinement and testing.

While the conclusions drawn from these indicators should be considered preliminary, they are consistent with trends reported here and elsewhere (see, for example, NSF 1993). These indicators were also used by the Office of Technology Assessment to examine Mexico's technological prospects (OTA 1992).

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