Many of the experiences of recent technological change, whether brought about by a process of explicit planning or by default have not contributed to improving the welfare of the poor who live in rural areas. This paper seeks to understand soma of the processes behind recent changes in agricultural and rural technology. It starts by looking at five different levels of rural technology decision making and discusses how these levels are interrelated. Case studies from high population density areas of Asia are used to illustrate some of the reasons for looking at social structures and reward systems at different levels of decision making. Suggestions in the concluding section include the need for rural technology case study research, the use of a rural technology checklist, and the strengthening of national, regional and decentralized research and production systems and a greater emphasis on collaborative work between disciplines when addressing problems of rural poverty.