East Europe Technology Needs Examined

By Weimer, William A. | Research-Technology Management, January/February 1992 | Go to article overview
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East Europe Technology Needs Examined


Weimer, William A., Research-Technology Management


Strong interest in improving industrial competitiveness by managing technology more effectively was evident at the Second International Forum on Technology Management, held in Paris Oct. 28-30. Eighty percent of the 220 attendees were from industrial firms.

Reflecting their concern over the state of Central and East European industry, keynote speaker Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, chairman of the board for The International Management Institute at Kiev, pointed out that, in Central and Eastern European countries, the theoretical education in the sciences and engineering has remained very strong over the past several decades. However, except for military applications of scientific theory, industries in these countries have failed to capitalize on their strong scientific base. Therefore, the requirement now is to understand the excellent theoretical base which exists, make use of it, and develop practical applications.

These countries need education in the application of engineering and scientific theory, to manage the conversion of theory to industrial application, and to learn the free-market principles which will then bring modern technologies to marketable and profitable business ventures.

Hawrylyshyn said it is a mistake to believe that the workers in Central and Eastern countries are not willing to work; exactly the opposite is true. Therefore, he suggested, companies wanting to develop business in these countries should assume the existence of a strong and nearly current theoretical base and a strong willingness to work. They should focus their energies on applying the science, establishing and managing competitive product development organizations, and building strong marketing strategies and capabilities.

Shorter Product Cycles

The time element dominated much of the conference discussion: the need to shorten the product development cycle, the need to get to market much more quickly. For example, Hans Friedrich, senior director of the Siemens Semiconductor Group, pointed out that time is the most significant factor in bringing Europe's semiconductor industry to become competitive with that of Japan. Even a six-month time lag in producing each of the next advances in semiconductor products will be nearly fatal, he pointed out.

Friedrich called for adopting the principle of "time transparency." That is, developers need to actually see the reasons for the time schedule being imposed and what happens when they fall behind.

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