|A New Europe in the Changing Global System (UNU, 1997, 253 pages)|
|PART THREE: THE LEGACY OF COMMUNIST RULE|
|10: Science and Technology in Central and Eastern Europe|
What could the international scientific community and its international organizations do to assist the Central and Eastern European countries in transforming their science and technology systems with the least possible losses in terms of human resources, time, and money? I would propose the following directions of effort for the purposes of reform:
(1) R&D in Central and Eastern Europe is in deep crisis. World experience shows that the only way out of the crisis is through a mastering of the innovation stream. However, the sharp decrease in resources available for innovations will not permit these countries to obtain a quick remedy for the situation. Currently an anti-innovation economic and social climate is dominant. Time is needed to introduce economically sound management in the R&D system. This should be done on the basis of studying the most important factors which influence the development of modern scientific and technological systems, the interplay of those factors, and especially the role of the state versus the market. The subject of such theoretical understanding should be the farreaching changes in the nature of science and technology policy. Encouraging the shift of science policy towards innovation policy is the most important change that should be studied by scientists and policy-makers of the Central and Eastern European countries. New methods and instruments are available to encourage such a shift, including social assessments of science and technology; public adjustment of clashes of interest among the producers and users of innovations and political reconciliation of the distinct interests of scientists, engineers, businessmen and the general public should be promoted and realized. In other words, science and technology should restore the broken links that held the economy and society together.
It is no secret that, owing to imposed unjustified restrictions and short-sighted governmental attitudes, scientists of the Central and Eastern European countries were not able to participate in the intellectual debates on the above-mentioned subjects related to changes in contemporary science and technology policies. Correspondingly, national science and technology policies were often based on ideological postulates rather than sound theoretical analysis.
In order to assist those countries in improving their national science and technology policies, UNESCO, in cooperation with a well-known NGO, the International Council of Science Policy Studies, has recently started a project on "Transformation of Science Management Systems of Eastern and Central European Countries during Their Transition to Market-Oriented Economies." The scientists participating in the project will analyze the major problems and formulate concrete recommendations addressed to the policy-makers of those countries.
The International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has recently launched a project on "R&D Management in the USSR in Transition to Market Economy." The UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Technology for Europe (ROSTE) has initiated a project on the "brain drain" in Europe.
(2) The transformation of the existing systems depends on initiatives by people. The most important explanation for failure is the lack of professionals duly prepared to perform this task. The ignorance of scientists and engineers in business and management areas is the major obstacle in the way of developing the entrepreneurial spirit in the R&D sector.
Long domination of the authoritarian command-administrative system led to the formation of specific economic cultures (I would rather say "economic anti-cultures") in Central and Eastern European countries.
The task of developing a genuine and dynamic economic culture, by means of training, exchange of specialists, organizing courses in marketing and staff management, and organizing visits of Eastern and Central European specialists to study and to have experience in foreign firms, companies, banks and business schools, is a task of primary urgency. Personnel training has to become an inseparable element of each technological project and program to be carried out in Central and Eastern Europe with the assistance of the Western countries or international organizations.
The Commission of the European Communities, in close cooperation with UNESCO, might play an organizing role in such massive training of specialists from Central and Eastern Europe.
(3) Higher education in many Eastern and Central European countries needs to be substantially reorganized. The development of close ties between universities and industries is a pronounced trend in the new technology systems of industrialized countries. University departments not only carry out research activities in basic sciences but are also undertaking research for firms on a much larger scale. Many new firms have been proliferating in high-tech sectors and these firms are often set up by researchers working at universities. A recent survey in France, for example, listed 145 firms, launched mainly in 1984-87, which had been developed directly out of the activities of university laboratories. (ICSPS-UNESCO-Institute of Theory and History of Science, 1990) UNESCO and other intergovernmental organizations should encourage drastic reorganization in the higher education sector along these lines.
(4) The ongoing international efforts to convert the military - industrial complex to much needed civilian purposes require attention on the part of policy-makers. We expect increasing pressure from politicians, scientific communities and the public at large for non-military industries. A rational conversion of the military sector should also be regarded as an efficient way of making sure that existing scientific and technological potential is not being lost.
This potential should be better used for the foundation of science and technology intensive R&D in non-military sectors of the economy. The priorities that were accorded the military industrial complex during the period of the Cold War create special opportunities to concentrate big resources to facilitate technological breakthroughs in civil areas. Joint efforts to achieve conversion could serve as an important focus for pan-European cooperation. In 1995, 45.8 percent of the R&D resources of the military complex of the former USSR are supposed to be redirected toward the implementation of civil-oriented R&D (against 29.6 percent in 1989). This shift should create promising opportunities for international multilateral and bilateral cooperation.
(5) The problem of the "brain drain" requires special attention on the part of the international community. A better utilization of scientific resources through the government support systems of international cooperation, as distinct from individual emigration and employment, is one of the possible contributions to the solution of the "brain-drain" problem in Europe.
Concluding my paper, I wish to emphasize the following:
The policy-makers in the Central and Eastern European countries should rely neither on the market nor on foreign investors to shape policy as to which of their industries will prosper and which will fail. After the euphoria about political and economic emancipation is over, a long-term strategy of scientific and technological development of these countries as a basis for transition from centrally planned to market-driven economic systems needs to be adopted. (Katz, 1991) The formulation of this strategy requires combining national efforts with experience and assistance from the outside world.