The transfer of productive technologies from the industrial nations of the North Atlantic to the rest of the world underlay dramatic economic and social transformations in the 19th century. Technology transfer has continued to play a central role in both international economics and national development policy through the late 20th century. Yet efforts to transfer novel technologies across national borders have varied widely, with outcomes ranging from success, to significant adaptation, to failure. This article offers a conceptual model for examining cases of technology transfer, illustrated with examples from Mexico's historical experience of 1870 through 1911. Although this approach comes from an historian's perspective, it is broadly applicable to interdisciplinary interest in technology transfer.