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Global Development Institute

Evaluation of Donor-Funded Information Technology Transfer Projects in China: A Lifecycle Approach

Erik Baark and Richard Heeks


Information technology forms an increasingly important component of donor-funded development projects, yet evaluation of such projects has been comparatively-rarely reported. This paper presents an evaluation of the information technology component within four Chinese technology projects, each of which is both described and evaluated. The evaluation is structured around a framework: the information technology transfer life-cycle. Using this life-cycle approach, a number of shortcomings are identified within the various technology projects. More general issues are also identified, for example, around training and the role of donor agencies. Two recommendations follow. First, some ideas about the way in which IT transfer projects are managed. Second, that the life-cycle approach be used more widely in both the evaluation and planning of technology transfer projects.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What is technology? What is technology transfer? [part 1]
  2. Describe the IT transfer lifecycle. [parts 1 & 4]
  3. What particular problems are there in transferring IT to developing countries? [part 3]
  4. Summarise the particular issues that arise at each stage of the IT transfer lifecycle. [part 4]
  5. What problems do donor agencies face in their involvement with IT transfer? [parts 5 & 6]

Development questions

  1. What criteria should we use to evaluate IT transfer projects?
  2. What is technological capability? Why is it important to developing countries? What strategies can such countries adopt to increase their level of technological capability?
  3. How would technology transfer issues differ:
    • if the recipients were private sector not public sector;
    • if a donor agency were not involved;
    • if the IT was being transferred to projects in an industrialised country?
  4. Does a 'lifecycle approach' add any value to our understanding of the IT transfer process?