Endogenous capacity is the degree of domestic capability to exercise independent, informed judgement and initiate actions regarding acquisition, deployment and generation of science and technology for economic and social development. This capacity is to be seen in the context of increasing complexity in the ability to manage technological change. There are four orders of endogenous capacity: making informed judgments on matters related to science and technology; selecting and utilizing technologies; adapting and accreting technologies; creating new technologies. The concept of endogenous capacity is evolutionary and multidimensional. The capacity in each country may vary according to the stage of its development. It may even differ in different sectors at a given time. The process of endogenous capacity building in science and technology can be facilitated through international cooperation. At present many sources and modes of cooperation are available. Full benefits, however, can only be derived if national needs and absorption capacity are realistically assessed by the relevant stakeholders in the countries concerned. Recognition of the different types (technical assistance, collaborative research and development, and business relationships), levels and modes of international cooperation, is necessary in order to formulate a national strategy for linking international cooperation in science and technology needs.
The United Nations promotes a Tripartite Technical Cooperation scheme, involving partnership between a newly industrialized country, an advanced country (or international organization), and a recipient developing country which facilitates the cross-cultural process of technology transfer and long-term partnerships, especially in areas involving newly emerging technologies.
A societal ability to "manage change" demands a technically literate population as well as a scientific and technological community well integrated into international peer networks. Every international cooperation project should be assessed in terms of its contribution to endogenous scientific and technological capacity building. Perhaps the most compelling argument for the build up of endogenous capacity in developing countries is the necessity for resilience in the face of unexpected trends and events. The kind of capacity needed is more generalized and less sector-specific than that needed for ordinary techno-economic development, and is thus harder to plan for.