Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2021, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (5): 681-698.doi: 10.1007/s11442-021-1865-5

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Embedded technology transfer from an institution and culture nexus perspective: Experiences from the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard-Gauge Railway

WANG Jiaoe1,2(), DU Fangye1,2, WU Mingquan3, LIU Weidong1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Aerospace Information Research Institute, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-10-29 Accepted:2021-03-08 Online:2021-05-25 Published:2021-07-25
  • About author:Wang Jiaoe, Professor, specialized in transport geography and regional development studies. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20010101);Major Program of National Fund of Philosophy and Social Science of China(20&ZD099)


Modern railway projects, characterized by “natural monopoly”, large investment, and far-reaching influences, are highly dependent on the institutional and cultural environments in China. The countries along the Belt and Road are characterized by weak institutions, unstable politics, and poor technology foundations, which are largely different from China. These factors are severe obstacles to international technology transfer. By summarizing the experiences from the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) project, this study proposes a framework for embedded technology transfer with a technology-institution-culture nexus. The results indicate that technology localization, including technology standards, management mode, and industrial chain, should be realized in the process of technology transfer. Then, the host government ought to overhaul its institutional and policy framework to support the infrastructure projects. Moreover, the cultural conflicts between the transferor and transferee should be taken seriously. This experience could provide references for other international infrastructure technology transfers.

Key words: technology transfer, infrastructure, localization, institution improvement, cultural integration