An International Relations Theory of Technological Change
24 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2007
Date Written: July 2005
Why are some countries more technologically innovative than others? National technological capability plays an important causal role in theories of war, alliance formation, and patterns of international trade and finance. However, explanations for national differences in technological capabilities have had little place in theories of international politics. This gap is the result of assumptions made by most IR theorists that the rate and direction of technological change are either random, scientifically determined, or structured solely by domestic institutions. This paper will bring together recent findings about the political economy of technological innovation in order to show that much of this conventional wisdom about technology is incorrect. Instead it will be theorized that, due to the distributive nature of technological change, each nation's balance of internal versus external threats to security determines its technological trajectory. That is, ceteris paribus, states concerned more with domestic security (the maintenance of civil order between domestic interest groups) should innovate relatively less; states concerned more with external security threats (to strategic economic inputs or military capability) should innovate relatively more. Put more simply, this paper will show how international relations are as important as domestic institutions, if not more so, in determining national innovation rates.
Keywords: technology, technological, innovation, institutions, security, omnibalancing
JEL Classification: O3, O11, P26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation