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Title: Technical change in GDR.
Author: Bentley, R.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1981
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Management & business studies