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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Local effort and global connections: the role of international linkages in the evolution of technological capabilities at Sasol
Authors:Bromfield, TracyISNI
Barnard, Helena
Periodical:South African Journal of Economic History (ISSN 1011-3436)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:technological change
scientific cooperation
international cooperation
Abstract:To what extent are international business connections useful to facilitate technological upgrading, and to what extent are they essential? This paper highlights at which junctures and through which mechanisms international expertise contributed to the technological advancement of Sasol, a firm that was founded in 1950 as a synthetic fuels producer to help promote energy security for South Africa. Technology development at the firm is followed from its founding until 2005. A variety of data sources are used to track the relationship between Sasol's own efforts and foreign linkages in the technological evolution of the economy. First, Sasol's synthetic fuel reactors are discussed as physical evidence of the firm's ability and effectiveness in transforming coal into fuels and chemicals. Second, Sasol's scientific publications and patenting are interpreted as evidence of advances in its underlying science base. Finally, the discussion is contextualized by using newspaper articles, company publications and annual reports from 1957 onwards to highlight the economic, sociopolitical and technical drivers in the evolution of Sasol. Ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]