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Comparative Technology Transfer and Society 4.2 (2006) vi-ix

In This Issue
Donald E. Klinger, Ph.D.
Co-Editor-in-Chief, CTTS

Since the inception of this journal, the editors have sought to identify and publish articles that examine all of the varied aspects of the transfer and diffusion of technology. Moreover, we have encouraged the presentation of multiple perspectives on the movement of technology across institutional and national boundaries. Our intentions have been to demonstrate the enormous complexity of diffusion exercises involving technology, and especially their social and cultural dimensions. Often, we have discovered, the importance of these noneconomic dimensions of transfer activities emerge most obviously when success proved elusive or problematic to the parties involved. This issue of Comparative Technology Transfer and Society adheres very well, we believe, to these goals and purposes. Included are three diverse articles and accompanying Notes from the Field that move from very large to relatively small organizations and projects. These examine a massive, decade-long program aiming at the complete industrial transformation of a nation through technology transfer, the movement of early plans and criteria for a military weapons system between two allies, and considerations related to the learning capabilities within business organizations devoted to information management systems.

Technology Transfer from the Soviet Union to the People's Republic of China: 1949–1966, by Baichun Zhang, Jiuchun Zhang, and Fang Yao is an account of one of the largest technol-ogy transfer programs in the past century. Upon coming to power in 1949, the Communist Party of China and its leaders moved quickly to launch a massive program to enable the Chinese mainland to begin the arduous process of developing an industrial economy. As the authors make clear, this task happened against the backdrop of Cold War geopolitical tensions, which cut China off from most Western sources of industrial technology. The leaders of China turned to the only sources of industrial know-how open to them—the Soviet Union and the bloc of communist countries in Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union at the time was itself still recovering from the devastation of World War II, even while seeking to complete its own program of assimilation and development of industrial technology. Soviet officials had embarked on this expanded industrial development program during the 1920s and 1930s that included efforts to transfer many industrial technologies from Europe and the United States. Despite obvious challenges and difficulties, the Chinese and Soviet governments collaborated in a huge transfer program from 1949 to 1966.

The authors, Chinese scholars with academic backgrounds in history of science, management, and the natural sciences, offer an important examination of this episode in technological diffusion. Until now, scholarly examinations of this huge development program have been available from experts and academics in the West and in the Soviet Union. The article in this issue is the first English-language account by Chinese scholars of these events. The result is an important new perspective on this massive transfer program; they base much of their account on government documents as well as interviews, memoirs, and other Chinese-language publications. Their unique perspective does not rewrite the existing history; a synthetic analysis considering all of the sources remains to be written. The authors do, however, present a detailed narrative of the Chinese side of the program that provided access to the industrial technology that China's leaders believed was vital to the nation's development.

From that viewpoint, a couple of points merit emphasis. The sheer scale of this transfer program deserves attention. Each country devoted a large fraction of its total economic development resources to the efforts to move industrial technology from the Soviet Union to China. Indeed, the authors demonstrate the wide range of mechanisms adopted by the two countries for moving knowledge, know-how, and hardware. Transfer activities ranged from machinery purchases to construction of entire "turn-key" plants; they also included a [End Page vi] diverse array of educational programs and technical exchanges of workers, managers, engineers, and academic scientists. Yet whereas China's dependence on the...


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