Soviet Advanced Technologies in the Era of Restructuring

by Simon Kassel

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This report assesses the capability and prospects for Soviet development of advanced technologies within the framework of the restructuring drive currently under way in the Soviet Union. The author analyzes recent Soviet technical literature, providing an overview of the restructuring process, its objectives for advanced technology development, the pace and extent of their realization, and the fundamental problems involved in the transition from leading-edge research and development (R&D) to industrial production. He suggests that Soviet problems with R&D arise largely from the revolutionary nature of advanced technology, the successful development of which requires an economic and industrial environment that is incompatible with rigidly applied principles of planned economy. The Soviet systemic aversion to risk and uncertainty has the greatest negative influence on the development of advanced technologies. Because Soviet failure to keep pace with the West in technological development is ultimately political in origin, it cannot be reversed without profound political changes of the system.

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