This thesis investigates policies and problems of technical
change in the German Democratic Republic; a subject
which has received little serious attention from Western researchers.
The approach is interdisciplinary, and strongly
empirical, historical and comparative. Chapter Two attempts
to assess the GDR's technological levels and Chapter Three,
its industrial R&D effort. Chapters Four to Seven assemble
and analyse measures affecting technical change upto 1975.
Chapter Eight contains reflections about the GDRIs technological
lag with the FRG, about its lead over Soviet civilian
industry, and towards a model of technical change.
Whilst generally occupying a leading position in Eastern
Europe, GDR technology has lagged that of the West and seems
to have been especially weak relative to the FRG in progressive
branches such as instrument building, electronics, dataprocessing,
synthetic fibres and plastics. These branches, at
least in the early sixties, were also characterised by low
R&D efforts compared with the FRG. Moreover the GDR's total
industrial R&D manpower was probably lower than that of the
FRG for both 1964 and 1970, and its system of industrial R&D,
something of an East-West hybrid.
Four broad "policies" are distinguished in the thesis.
The first was the system of detailed central planning operative
upto 1962. This proved incapable of stimulating rapid
technical change; important hindrances being schematism,
opposition, bureaucracy and poor coordination in planning;
and shortcomings in project selection, the price mechanism
and the bonus systems. At most enterprises entertained small
cost-saVing projects after the price was set. The second
"policy" was the New Economic System. This involved a number
of interesting measures aimed at alleviating the above
obstacles. Unfortunately it was short-lived. Decisive in its
downfall was a third "policy", an offensive strategy launched
in 1968 to overtake the "world level" of technology. The strategy
was overambitious and involved unrealistic ideas about
new technologies; forecasting; the efficacy of large-scale
operations; and reorganisation under taut aggregate planning.
The fourth "policy" concerned the efforts to link academic
science with industry up to 1975. To some extent these efforts
were hindered by difficulties of academic manpower and research
facilities. The main problem, however, was that each
side had very different and not easily reconcilable objectives.
Three factors would seem particularly relevant for understanding
the GDR's comparative technological sophistication:
the strength of market signals, the degree of decentralised
decision-making, and the pressure of competition.
A~ the same time the thesis argues against oversimplified
models of technical change, whether from West or East, and
suggests an interpretation based on the different, variable
and often conflicting interest groups involved.