Laura Del-Río-Carazo1 Santiago Iglesias-Pradas1 and Emiliano Acquila-Natale1

1 Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Av. Complutense 30, 28040 Madrid, Spain,,

Keywords: Appropriate technology, scoping review, developing countries, sustainability

1. Introduction

Community-based projects in emerging countries help respond to basic needs. Yet, successful knowledge and technology transfer in these projects is still a pending issue [1]. Appropriate technologies (ATs) are key to effectively implement community-based projects [2]. ATs were initially defined as “small scale, labor intensive, low capital, energy efficient [technologies] controlled by the local community” [3]. Along the years, this concept has expanded its reach, allowing for different views, depending on the field of study (medicine, economics, sustainability and others) or main focus (technology, people) [4,5,6,7]. This study explores the concept of ATs by means of a scoping review.

2. Method

Scoping reviews help clarify and identify general themes on a topic of interest [8]. Following Arksey and O’Malley [9], the research unfolds in five-stages: (1) identification of the research question, (2) identification of relevant studies, (3) selection of studies, (4) data charting, and (5) collation, summary and report of results. The research proposes the following research questions: (1) How to define ATs, and what aspects should this definition cover?; (2) Has the concept of ATs changed over time? If so, how?; (3) Can we identify gaps in research on ATs?

Articles for the scoping review were retrieved from the Web of Science database, using “Appropriate technology” as primary keyword. The selection of articles follows the PRISMA-Statement [10] shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. PRISMA flow diagram for article selection.

3. Results

The definitions and characteristics of AT have been adapted to AT-based projects and framed according to the phases of this type of projects: goal setting, technology selection, identification of resources, implementation and assessment. From our review, we propose the following definition of ATs: “Appropriate technologies for community-based projects are technologies oriented towards the people of the community to address their needs, in small scale projects that are developed by the community, sustainable and maintainable, and that have a positive impact on the community. Appropriate technologies should be affordable, simple, adaptable and must use local resources.

4. Conclusion

Since 2015, the alignment of AT-based projects with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [11] has widened the gap between early theoretical approaches and current views of ATs. From the perspective of the sequential development of AT-based projects, the initial stage (identification of community needs) shapes the characteristics of ATs; in addition, project phases that are associated with the intrinsic characteristics of the technologies and necessary resources heavily rely on the rest of elements of the project.

The review also shows that definitions from empirical studies focus on specific phases of the projects, lacking a holistic view. Most of them are cross-sectional and focus on implementation and generally omit the assessment stage, which points out the need for longitudinal studies and the design of impact assessment models in AT-based projects. Given the limited breadth of scoping reviews, our results should be confirmed and expanded by a systematic literature review.


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Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Industrial Management and XXV Congreso de Ingeniería de Organización Copyright © by (Eds.) José Manuel Galán; Silvia Díaz-de la Fuente; Carlos Alonso de Armiño Pérez; Roberto Alcalde Delgado; Juan José Lavios Villahoz; Álvaro Herrero Cosío; Miguel Ángel Manzanedo del Campo; and Ricardo del Olmo Martínez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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