Prometheus: Vol 20, No 4 (2002)

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The Employment of German Scientists in Australia after World War II
Evan Jones
Pages: 305-321


Soon after the end of World War II the Australian Government brought scientists of defeated Germany to Australia. They were to work in government institutions and private industry to contribute their expertise to improving Australian science and to improving Australia’s industrial efficiency. The Allied powers occupying Germany were engaged in a scramble to appropriate German expertise for the next phase of the arms race. The Australian Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens Scheme (ESTEA) instead channeled its personnel to basic science and industrial research. The personnel were part human reparations, part invited experts. This curious scheme offers insight into attitudes towards industrial regeneration in a previous era, and the importance of context in shaping attempts to alter existing scientific and industrial cultures.

The Evolution of the Digital Computation Industry
Mark Jackson , Tom Mandeville & Jason Potts
Pages: 323-336


All industries are based upon a core of knowledge. Economic evolution is the growth of this knowledge as an experimental and path-dependent process involving markets, firms, finance, entrepreneurship, and often substantial uncertainty. In the set of industries associated with information technology, the core of knowledge is programmable digital computation (PDC). In this paper, we outline the origins and development of PDC, and in particular the path from the mainframe industry to the PC. We tell this story in order to highlight a number of salient features about the relationship between competition and evolution. First, the predominant form of competition was not focused about competitive pricing in existing markets, but rather for the creation of new markets and therefore monopoly positions. Second, as the IBM story demonstrates, this involved leveraging competencies between markets, often deliberately destroying a market in order to create a new one. Third, as the hacker tradition illustrates, much of the entrepreneurial development of the industry came from the users, due to their close conception of the technological possibilities and opportunities. Fourth, we highlight the overarching importance of the setting of standards (by fiat, by self-organization, or by monopoly) and the role this has in reducing uncertainty. We offer some policy and management lessons based upon this analysis.

South Korean Media Industry in the 1990s and the Economic Crisis
Doobo Shim
Pages: 337-350


This paper examines the changes in the Korean media industry with reference to the Korean economic crisis in the 1990s as Korean big business, or chaebol, previously unconcerned with the media industry, expanded into that sector.Given the conventional close relationship between the state and big business in Korean economic development, this new business strategy had implications for state policy.

Diffusion of R&D within the Australian Wine Industry
David K. Aylward
Pages: 351-366


The Australian wine industry’s popular image as a leader in R&D can indeed be substantiated. Its oenological and viticultural innovation and technical expertise have set new international benchmarks. The coordination of this R&D has ensured that the industry remains at the leading edge. However, the findings of this paper also substantiate concerns that this R&D is concentrated in what appears to be a South Australian R&D ‘epicentre’. Regions and wine operators not connected to this epicentre can be disadvantaged. This paper examines the diffusion of R&D to regional operators and suggests mechanisms for improvement of the current structure.

The Dilemmas of External Earnings in Public Sector Scientific Research
Chrys Gunasekara
Pages: 367-377


Governments in a number of developed countries have repositioned their public research agencies to support economic objectives and to alleviate fiscal pressures. This has been accomplished through various strategies, including private-public partnerships and purchaser-provider arrangements. In the 1980s, the Australian Government introduced external earnings targets of up to 30% per annum for its public research agencies, as a means of strengthening their responsiveness to national economic needs. A case study of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is presented in this article to discuss the impacts of the external earnings policy. Impacts on the type of research being undertaken by public research agencies, the quality of public research-industry relationships, the nature of scientists’ work and the role of stakeholders are considered. A number of dilemmas are raised relating to the role of public scientific research.

Early Electrical Communications Technology and Structural Change in the International Political Economy–The Cases of Telegraphy and Radio
Peter Mcmahon
Pages: 379-390


It is increasingly apparent that the roots of current global transformation lie very much in the middle to late nineteenth century and the raft of basic political, economic, socio-cultural and technological changes that occurred at this time. This is mainly because of the development of a set of novel communications technologies that began the information technology-based transformation. This paper briefly reviews the period from 1845 to 1914 to highlight the role of the emergent information technologies of telegraphy and radio in the consolidation of liberal/international forces and then the rise of nationalist military-industrial tendencies. These technologies were primarily concerned with the control of processes associated with the particular forms of politico-economic development prevalent at the time, and as such were of fundamental importance in promoting structural change, including hegemonic transition as Britain was challenged by Germany and the US.

Book reviews
Pages: 391-407

Contributors to this Issue
Page: 409