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Soviet Design: The Neglected Partner of Soviet Science and Technology

  • Raymond Hutchings

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According to my definitions, any society must combine “science,” “technology,” and “design” whenever it creates useful material objects. Science establishes principles which technology (with some admixture of common sense, and guidance from economics) embodies in physical components through manufacture. Design attends to the composition and arrangement of these components, as well as to the appearance and balance of qualities of the assembled product, with a view to satisfying consumers and other users. Given a conception of three essentially distinct elements, imports of advanced equipment by the USSR do not necessarily signify an inability to create original designs. The intention might rather be to put certain designs into production, using processes not offered by indigenous technology.

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References

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1. Similarly, when speaking of science or technology, one does not confine the meaning to their philosophy or social organization.

2. See, for example, Jean, Alexander, Russian Aircraft since 1940 (London, 1975).

3. Thus, in my terminology, “design technology” would have no clear or precise signification

4. As is convincingly argued in Eugene S. Ferguson, “The Mind's Eye: Nonverbal Thought in Technology,” Science, August 26, 1977.

5. Raymond Hutchings, “Soviet Technological Policy” in John, Hardt, ed., Soviet Economic Prospects for the Seventies (Washington, D.C.: Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, 1973), pp. 76 and 82. Military and military-associated manufacture was apparently the first to achieve success in this connection.

6. Compare S. Lieberstein's review of V. G. Afanasyev, The Scientific and Technological Revolution, in Technology and Culture, 18, no. 2 (April 1977): 260.

7. Raymond, Hutchings, “The Weakening of Ideological Influences upon Soviet Design,” Slavic Review, 27, no. 1 (March 1968): 7184.

8. Raymond, Hutchings, Soviet Science, Technology, Design: Interaction and Convergence (London: Oxford University Press, 1976 (hereafter cited as SSTD).

9. Sutton, Antony C., Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development 1917 to 1930 (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1968, p. 259.

10. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 103-4. The weakness of Soviet instrumentation was stressed, although with qualification, in a presentation by T. Gustafson at the Ninth National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, October 13-16, 1977, in Washington, D.C.

11. Smith, Maureen R., “Industrial Cooperation Agreements, Soviet Experience and Practice,” in Hardt, J., ed., Soviet Economy in A New Perspective (Washington, D.C.: Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, 1976), p. 775, table 4.

12. Sutton, A. C., Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development 1945 to 1965 (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1973, p. 380. Sutton states that this was due to successful scaling-up based on Western processes.

13. P. Hanson, “International Technology Transfer from the West to the U.S.S.R.,” in Hardt, Soviet Economy in A New Perspective, p. 792; cf. Hutchings, SSTD, p. 95.

14. Hanson, “International Technology Transfer,” pp. 800-801.

15. The chemical industry is in fact a number of separate industries. The various branches of the chemical industry exhibited very different degrees of seasonality (see R., Hutchings, Seasonal Influences in Soviet Industry [London: Oxford University Press, 1971], pp. 42–43, table 8).

16. Finding based on my unpublished work.

17. I am grateful to S. E. Goodman for this observation.

18. Machine tools currently account for 9.1 percent of Soviet industrial cooperation agreements (see Smith, “Industrial Cooperation Agreements, Soviet Experience and Practice,” p. 775).

19. Ellis, Chris and Chamberlain, Peter, The Great Tanks (London: Hamlyn, 1975, p. 52.

20. I was recently impressed by the handling characteristics of the weapon, in comparison with assault rifles made in various other countries.

21. M. Allward, Air Pictorial, February 1977, pp. 49-50.

22. Kehoe, Captain James W. Jr., “Warship Design: Ours and Theirs,” United States Naval Institute Proceedings, August 1975, pp. 61–62.

23. Cf. Raymond Hutchings, review of Sutton, Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development 1945 to 1965, in International Affairs, 50, no. 4 (October 1974): 653.

24. A number of illustrations are provided in Sutton, Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development, vols. 1-3.

25. Ellis and Chamberlain, The Great Tanks, pp. 43-53.

26. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 239-40.

27. Ibid., p. 179.

28. Thus, according to a BBC television report, a vehicle with high ground clearance, developed by the giant Togliatti motor works, uses the same back axle and transmission as the factory's standard product, the Lada (BBC Television, “The Money Programme,” November 11, 1977).

29. Earl M. Rubenking, “The Soviet Tractor Industry: Progress and Problems,” in Hardt, Soviet Economy in A New Perspective, p. 604.

30. Mishina, N, “Sil'nee Stikhi: Rasskaz o torn, kak ukrotili moshchnyi gazovoi fontan,” Pravda, May 20, 1977, p. 6.

31. Khrushchev, N. S., Khrushchev Remembers, 2 vols., trans. Talbott, Strobe (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), 2: 72.

32. Ibid., p. 67.

33. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 148-49.

34. For example, in regard to the AN/SQS-53 sonar on U.S.S. Spruance type destroyers, see Ezio Bonsignore, Aviation & Marine International, Atlantic ed., May 1977, p. 62.

35. Clarence E. Robinson, “Soviets Push for Beam Weapon,” and Hotz, Robert, “Beam Weapon Threat,” both in Aviation Week and Space Technology, May 2, 1977, pp. 11, 16-23; cf. Walgate, R, “Russia's Incredible Beam Weapons,” New Scientist, May 19, 1977, p. 379.

36. The higher percentage is assumed by Hans Bergendorf and Per Strangert, in “Projections of Soviet Economic Growth and Defense Spending,” in Hardt, Soviet Economy in A New Perspective, p. 414.

37. Hutchings, SSTD, p. 89.

38. Calculations are based on Narodnoe khosiaistvo SSSR v 1965 g. (Moscow, 1966), p. 67. In this source, data for design bureaus as well as for sections and laboratories which are financially dependent on industrial enterprises are given as of April 1, 1961; other entries as of January 1, 1962. My calculations assume the average annual growth rate to be unaffected by the change of reporting date.

39. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 141-43, 145, 148.

40. See Anthony, Netting, “Images and Ideas in Russian Peasant Art,” Slavic Review, 35, no. 1 (March 1976): 4868.

41. Until the Stakhanovite movement, planned increases in industrial output were based only on the amount of capital investment, without taking into account workers’ skill (see Hutchings, SSTD, p. 103).

42. Khrushchev, seeking to discover why Soviet industry was turning out tires with a much shorter life than was expected, found that departures had been made from the instructions left by the American firm that had introduced the process. When these instructions were reinstated, better tires began to be produced (Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, 1: 142-46). The discouraging moral for would-be improvers of foreign technology was that the foreigners always knew best.

43. Raymond, Hutchings, Soviet Economic Development (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1971, pp. 302–3 ; Narodnoe khosiaistvo SSSR v 1975 g. (Moscow, 1976), p. 294.

44. J., Meister, Soviet Warships of the Second World War (London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1977), pp. 2–4.

45. S., Breyer, Guide to the Soviet Navy, trans. Hemley, M. W. (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1970), pp. 30–31, 146-48.

46. N., Polmar, Soviet Naval Power: Challenge for the 1970s, rev. ed. (London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1974), p. 90.

47. Sutton, Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development 1945 to 1965, pp. 411-14.

48. That technological imports now predominate in the later stages of manufacture is also suggested by the fact that Soviet/U.S. cooperation agreements have been signed mostly for radio, television, and electronic equipment (nine agreements), engineering (nine agreements), data processing (five), aircraft and parts (five), machine tools (four), and food product machinery (four) (see Lawrence H. Theriot, “U.S. Governmental and Private Industry Co-Operation Agreements with the Soviet Union in the Fields of Science and Technology,” in Hardt, Soviet Economy in A New Perspective, p. 750).

49. Robert W., Campbell, “Management Spillovers from Soviet Space and Military Programmes,” Soviet Studies, 23, no. 4 (April 1972): 606.

50. Ergonomics is the specialization of V. N. Munipov, the deputy head of VNIITE.

51. For example, in 1943 Alexander Iakovlev, already a deputy people's commissar and major general, was promoted to lieutenant general (A. Yakovlev, , The Aim of a Lifetime [Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972], p. 234).

52. Ibid., pp. 29-31.

53. G., Ozerov, Tupolevskaia sharaga, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt/Main: PossevVerlag, 1973), especially pp. 24–29.

54. In regard to the Soviet navy, the match between these propositions and actuality is rather good, as I hope to illustrate in a forthcoming article.

55. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 28-29.

56. This point is partly based on remarks by Bruce Parrott, in his presentation to the Ninth National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, October 13-16, 1977, in Washington, D.C.

57. Hutchings, SSTD, p. 175.

58. B. Sukharevskii, Planovoe khosiaistvo, 1937, no. 11-12, p. 35.

59. These phenomena are documented in R. Hutchings, “Studies in Soviet Industrial Development” (Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1958), pp. 321-34.

60. Hutchings, SSTD, pp. 20-21, 156, 166.

61. Medvedev, Zhores A., The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko, trans. Lerner, I. Michael (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp. 7–8, 12-17, 151-55.

62. For example, see Gatovskii, L. M., Ekonomicheskie problemy nauchno-tekhnicheskogo progressa (Moscow, 1971), p. 118.

63. In this connection, see Raymond Hutchings, “World-Wide View: USSR,” Design, January 1976, pp. 48-49.

64. See, for example, Hanson, “International Technology Transfer,” pp. 786-812.

Soviet Design: The Neglected Partner of Soviet Science and Technology

  • Raymond Hutchings

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