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TECHNOLOGICAL SOVEREIGNTY: FORGOTTEN FACTOR IN THE ‘HI-TECH’ RAZZAMATAZZ
Technological sovereignty is the capability and the freedom to select, to generate or acquire and to apply, build upon and exploit commercially technology needed for industrial innovation. It is to be distinguished from technological self-sufficiency, which is the possession of, or the ability to generate readily, all technology required. Australia’s past failure to take the sovereignty factor into account has far-reaching implications for future industry/technology strategy.
RHETORIC AND REPRESENTATION IN AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE IN THE 1940s AND 1980s
The title of this paper is not meant to imply comprehensive treatment of developments in Australian science from the 1940s to the 1980s. Its more modest objective is to isolate particular parallels in the debates and rhetoric about science in these two decades. It argues that shifting political and economic contexts condition scientists’ preferred strategies of self-legitimation. These shifts may cause major realignments within the scientific power structure. Two such shifts occurred during the 1940s. Coinciding with the outbreak of World War II, the catchcry of ‘science for society’ catalysed unprecedented moves to register science as a key national resource. But the projection of the scientist as social engineer/mediator was not to be realised. With the onset of the Cold War, the scientific community reverted to the defence of autonomy and non-interventionism in scientific organisation. Scientific ‘excellence’ rapidly replaced ‘relevance’ as a justification for government support of science. The appeal to freedom from political interference remains a powerful article of faith within the stratified research hierarchy. Increasingly, however, the rationale of autonomy is out of step with the economic and political climate of the 1980s. Some exploratory observations are made about the legacy of the 1940s in the emerging current political debate about Australia’s so-called ‘technological dependence’ and a renewed concern about strategic relationships among science, technology, productivity and national wealth.
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TECHNOLOGY: THE CONTINGENT NATURE OF ITS IMPACT
The pervasiveness of microelectronic-based technologies and rising levels of unemployment have led to special attention being paid to the role of technology in the workplace. Prescriptive statements about this impact have failed to do justice to the contingent and contested nature of these changes. Recognition of the quasi-political nature of this process may disrupt the hygienic tone of these prescriptions, but should lead to a more realistic appreciation of this process. This argument is illustrated with reference to both employment numbers and the nature of work.
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TRADE UNIONS, NEW TECHNOLOGY AND INCOMES POLICY: DISCLOSURE AND USE OF COMPANY INFORMATION
This article views prospective change in the industrial relations system, during the Hawke Government era, from an information system perspective. Exogenous forces emanating from technological change, cyclical and structural unemployment, and the framework of an incomes-prices policy, suggest that contentious policy issues of company information disclosure to unions and employees will occupy a prominent place on the agenda for the future of Australian industrial relations. Problems of disclosure are analysed against international trends, and reform proposals for Australian disclosure policies are critically examined. Some options are elaborated for the development of improved disclosure practices.
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HIGH TECHNOLOGY POLICY AND THE SILICON VALLEY MODEL: AN AUSTRALIAN PERSPECTIVE
Australia seeks to emerge from the depths of recession and to break free from the syndrome of giving ever-increasing protection to a decaying manufacturing sector, by encouraging high technology industry. Silicon Valley, the home of much of the world’s semiconductor industry, is often seen as the appropriate model for the development of such industry. For those used to dealing with the siting and encouragement of conventional industry, it can seem that high technology industry, with no heavy raw material input or bulky product output and requiring no large labour pool or local market, in fact has no special requirements at all. Others look to the Silicon Valley model and plan science or technology parks to reproduce the factors they believe responsible for that phenomenon. For example, great emphasis is generally placed on proximity to universities, apparently in ignorance of the very minor role universities played in the growth of the semiconductor industry, and of the great practical divide between science and technology. Vital factors, such as the ready information flow achieved by high mobility of those in high technology industry, are ignored. The Australian situation is complicated further by competition among the States to attract high technology industry, a competition that tends to emasculate national policy. Yet this situation is really just a local representation of what is happening internationally among countries and among regions within those countries. This desperation to leap blindly into high technology, whatever it is and whatever the cost, by following a model that is scarcely understood, is unlikely to produce the huge rewards so many policy makers anticipate are so readily available.
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THE FAILURE OF A NEW COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY IN A LARGE HOSPITAL ORGANISATION
Ann M. Brewer
The failure of a Patient Monitor Nurse Call (PMNC) system in a large metropolitan teaching hospital is reported and an evaluation is carried out to establish the reasons for failure and future design requirements.
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Future Tense? Technology in Australia edited by Stephen Hill and Ron Johnston, (University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1983) pp. xii + 215, $19.95
Choice by Cable: The Economics of a New Era in Television by Cento G. Veljanovski and William D. Bishop, (Hobart Paper 96, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, 1983) pp. 120, £2.50
Dictionary of the History of Science edited by W.F. Bynum, H.J.Browne and Roy Porter, (Macmillan Press, London, 1981) pp. xxxiv + 494, $45.00 [hb], $16.95 [pb]
Barry O. Jones
Australian Unions: An Industrial Relations Perspective edited by Bill Ford and David Plowman, (Macmillan, Melbourne, 1983) pp. iv + 576, $19.95 [pb], $39.95 [hb]
Australia’s Industrial Future: Communication (Selected papers and abstracts from Section 33 given at the 52nd ANZAAS Congress, Macquarie University, New South Wales, 10–14 May 1982) edited by Mari Davis (Trans Knowledge Associates, Melbourne, 1983) pp. 52, $8.00
Peter B. White
Australia Since the Coming of Man by Russel Ward, (Lansdowne Press, Sydney, 1982 edition) pp. 254, $20.00
Australia: A Client State. by Greg Crough and Ted Wheelwright, (Penguin Books, Ringwood, 1982) pp. 255, $7.95
Reform the Law. Essays on the Renewal of the Australian Legal System by Michael Kirby, (Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1983) pp. 284, $24.99 (hb). $12.99 [pb]
The Cost Effectiveness of Alternative Library Storage Programs by R.A. Stayner and V.E. Richardson, (Monash University Graduate School of Librarianship, Melbourne, 1983) pp. 149, $10.00
World Trade Distortions: A Study in Modern Trade Practice by Patricia Boyce and Hayden Llewellyn (with chapters by G.D. Allen and N.R. Norman), (Australian Industries Development Association Research Centre, Melbourne, 1983) pp. 213, $12.50
Innovation and Australian Industrial Relations by Chris Fisher, (Croom Helm, Australia, 1983) pp . 226, $24.95 [hb], $12.95 [pb]
Developing High Technology Enterprises for Australia (Espie Report) by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, Canberra, 1983) pp . ix + 132, $10.00
Sources of Australian Economic Information by Infoquest Business Publications, (Infoquest, 123 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 1983) pp. 35, $25.00
THIS IS IT. A Manager’s Guide to Information Technology by John Eaton and Jeremy Smithers, (Philip Alan, Oxford, 1982) pp. xi + 345, $43.00 [hb], $21.50 (pb)