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IMPROVING MANAGERIAL APPROACHES TO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Advances in information technology should be viewed by management not only as inherently desirable in themselves, but also as sources of potentially valuable improvements in planning, operations, control and performance evaluation. Hence, it is appropriate that all such proposals should be evaluated in terms of their expected yields of faster, more complete, more accurate and more effectively integrated information flows. In addition, however, primary emphasis should also be given to the magnitude of resulting contributions to the competitiveness, profitability and growth of the firm relative to the time, investments and costs involved.
WORK PRACTICES, TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND SHEET METAL WORKERS, 1929-1970
This article surveys the history of work practices in sheet metal work from 1929 to 1970. It focuses on the role of internal labour markets and union power in sustaining such work practices as seniority, the strict allocation of work according to job classifications, and the regulation of working time. Internal labour markets were structured by formal and informal rules which made it difficult for employers to transfer employees or to recruit from the wider, external labour market. Such restrictions placed barriers in the way of the most efficient use of new technologies. Managerial control over how work was done and attempts to improve discipline and to increase work effort were also limited by work practices. To the extent that internal labour markets prevented the easy employment of labour from the external labour market, the bargaining power of employees was strengthened.
THE HUMAN FRONTIER SCIENCE PROGRAMME: A WINDOW INTO TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY RESEARCH FOR AUSTRALIA
Japan’s Human Frontier Science Programme, tacitly endorsed in the 1988 Toronto Summit Declaration, is examined in the context of converging Japanese economic and social imperatives. The two key research areas of the programme, elucidation of brain functions and elucidation of biological functions through molecular level approaches, are both ones in which Australia has research strengths. Opportunities for major investment in the biological component of Australia’s basic research infrastructure and postdoctoral training are emerging, which could greatly assist Australia’s research capability in the biosciences. Assuming successful establishment of the programme, there are several challenges which will need to be faced whether Australia participates at a managerial level or not. Issues such as intellectual property rights and drainage of research talent will undoubtedly emerge, although largely as a result of a potential ‘new protectionism’ among Summit countries, rather than from Japan in isolation. In addition, the social policy driving the Human Frontier Science Programme is poorly conceived, and may lead to contention in certain areas of research.
THE INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNION AT THE CROSSROADS
Poul Hansen & William H. Melody
The authors were members of the Advisory Group of Experts on Telecommunications Policy whose report helped prepare for the Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU in Nice in June this year. This paper is based on the Group’s report. It discusses the role of the ITU in the organisation of the world’s telecommunications systems and suggests what changes will be required if the ITU is to be as influential in future telecommunications developments as it has been in the past. Particular attention is paid to the importance of information and computing technologies in modern telecommunications. While the ITU has begun to bridge the gulf between developed and developing countries in their approach to telecommunications, continuing insistence on secrecy in its deliberations may be an indication that the ITU has not yet come to terms with the difficulties it faces.
LUDDITES, HIPPIES AND ROBOTS: AUTOMATION AND THE POSSIBILITY OF RESISTANCE
Carl G. Hedman
It is argued that neither David Noble’s call for a new Luddism on the part of workers nor Andre Gorz’ reliance on the emergence of a “non-class of non-workers” provides an adequate strategy for resisting problematic uses of automation. Instead, their differing emphases present us with an old dilemma: How to avoid utopianism (where a vision of the future floats above history) without falling into a problematic conservatism (where present interests simply reflect the status quo). In the concluding sections it is argued that an effective resistance can be developed only if traditional worker constituencies enter into an alliance with movements for racial and sexual equality.
THE IMPLICATIONS FOR TERTIARY VOCATIONAL EDUCATION OF THE GOVERNMENTS EMPHASIS UPON SKILLS FORMATION
This paper is addressed to those responsible for determining policy in tertiary vocational education, in particular senior staff in TAFE. It discusses the likely effects of the Government’s recent emphasis on skills formation. The context for a skills formation approach is provided and the growing influence industry is likely to have upon vocational education is discussed. TAFE, as the major provider of tertiary vocational education, is the educational organisation most likely to be affected. The need to maintain a commitment to provide education as well as training, and for concern with equity as well as short term economic success, is stressed. The paper argues that we must learn from the thinking behind the economic successes of countries such as Sweden and Japan and use this to produce solutions which will work in our context, rather than simply copy the processes they have used to achieve that success.
INFORMATION SERVICES FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES: THE “TELECOTTAGE” PROJECT
Steve Harrison & Lars Qvortrup
The establishment of a network of ‘telecottages’ or community teleservice centres in Scandinavia commenced in 1985. These centres provide public access to computers and a broad range of software, databases, communications, distance education and other services, and are now making an important contribution to economic, social and cultural development, particularly in more isolated rural communities. Similar installations are being planned or contemplated in several European countries (France, Spain, Portugal, Wales and Scotland), in Canada, and in the developing countries of Bhutan, Benin and Sri Lanka. The telecottage concept has appeal for Australia and New Zealand, where rural isolation is relatively great. This paper discusses the rationale and history of the telecottage project, the services provided, achievements to date and future prospects. The relevance of the concept for Australasia is then examined. The material presented here is based on visits by the authors to a number of telecottages in Denmark, and has drawn on findings reported by Qvortrup.
THE IMPACT OF THE 150 PER CENT TAX CONCESSION FOR INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN AUSTRALIA — A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT
The paper has two main objectives. First, it provides the background and rationale for Australia’s introduction of the 150 per cent tax concession for IR&D in order to appreciate some of the problems of its implementation. Secondly, it assesses the effectiveness of the concession in promoting IR&D. The latter requires estimation of the impact of the concession on the user cost of IR&D and the responsiveness of the demand for IR&D to changes in its user cost.
HUMAN QUALITIES NECESSARY FOR INVENTION: INDEPENDENT INVENTORS AND THE STIMULUS OF ADVERSITY
Inasmuch as the efforts of independent inventors are appreciated at all, it is commonly argued that greater benefit would ensue from their inventions if the inventors possessed a more realistic understanding of the innovative process, and if the world were generally more sympathetic. There is sense in this view, but perhaps some consideration should be given to the impact such changes might have on the essential creativity of the independent inventor. It seems likely that this creativity is in part a product of adversity and might well be extinguished if conditions were made more conducive to the activities of the independent inventor.
Oceans of Wealth? by the Review Committee on Marine Industries, Science and Technology (AGPS, Canberra, 1989) pp.xx + 188, ISBN 0-644-09617-9
Technology Absorption in Indian Industry edited by Ashok V. Desai (Wiley Eastern Limited, New Delhi, 1988) pp. x + 210, $US10.00, ISBN 81-224-0051-5
On the Applicability of Computerized Production Control in an Egyptian Industry by Pär Lind (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, 1988) pp. x + 215, ISBN 91-7170-926-6
The Tragedy of Technology: Human Liberation Versus Domination in the Late Twentieth Century by Stephen Hill (London, Pluto Press, 1988) pp. 294, ISBN 1-853-05-009-1
Taming the Tyrant: The First 100 Years of Australia’s International Telecommunications Services by Edgar Harcourt (Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1987) pp. xvi + 405, cloth $39.95, ISBN 0 04 994011 2
The Organisational Implications of Computer Technology for Professional Work by Stephen E. Little (Gower Publishing, Aldershot, 1988) pp. xvii + 199, cloth $39.50, ISBN 056605454 X
Strategic Trade Policy and the New International Economics edited by Paul Krugma (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987) pp. x + 313, ISBN 0-262-11112-8
Costs and Benefits of the Heart Transplant Programmes at Harefield and Papworth Hospitals by Martin Buxton, Roy Acheson, Noreen Caine, Stuart Gibson and Bernie O’Brien (Department of Health and Social Security, Research Report No. 12, HMSO, London, 1985) pp. viii + 171, ISBN 0-11-321033-7
Biotechnology in Australia by the Biotechnology Consultative Group (AGPS, Canberra, 1988) pp. xiii + 54, ISBN 0-644-08068-X
Letters to Thinkers: Further Thoughts on Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1988), paper, $16.95, ISBN 0-14-022806-3
Edward W. Ploman
The Information Society by David Lyon (Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, 1988) pp. x + 196, ISBN 0-7456-0260-6
CIM Computer Integrated Manufacturing: Computer Steered Industry by August-Wilhelm Scheer (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1988) pp. xii + 200, ISBN 3-540-19191-7
Sidney E. Harris
From Mangle to Microwave: The Mechanisation of Household Work by Christina Hardyment (Polity Press, Cambridge, 1988) pp. 220, £15, ISBN 0-7456-0206-1
International Business in the Nineteenth Century: The Rise and Fall of a Cosmopolitan Bourgeoisie by Charles A. Jones (Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, 1987) pp. xi + 260, ISBN 7450-0399-0
The Commonwealth of Science: ANZAAS and the Scientific Enterprise in Australasia 1888–1988 edited by Roy MacLeod (Oxford University Press, Sydney, 1988) pp. xvi + 417, cloth $35.00, ISBN 0-19-554683-0
Technical Change and Industrial Policy edited by Keith Chapman and Graham Humphrys (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1987) pp. 264, US$49.95 hardback, ISBN 0-631-15215-6
The Economic Analysis of Technology Policy by Paul Stoneman (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987) pp. x + 224, ISBN 0-19-877260-2
Beyond Computopia: Information, Automation and Democracy in Japan by Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Kegan Paul International, London, 1988) pp. x + 221, cloth £30, ISBN 07103-0293-2
Information Resources and Corporate Growth edited by Eduardo Punset and Gerry Sweeney (Frances Pinter, New York/London, 1989) £25, ISBN 0-86187-720-9
Technology and the Labour Process: Australian Case Studies edited by Evan Willis (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1988) pp. ix + 201, paper $19.95, ISBN 0-04-337008-X
Technology and Competition in the International Telecommunications Industry by David Charles, Peter Monk and Ed Sciberras (Pinter Publishers, London, 1989) pp. 178, hardback £27.50, ISBN 0-86187-9937
Future Directions for Pay Television in Australia. Volume 1: Report; Volume 2: Appendices and Common Carriers Papers Department of Transport and Communications (AGPS, Canberra, 1989) Vol. 1 $14.95, Vol. 2 $24.95, ISBN 0-644-09425-7
The Rules Are No Game: The Strategy of Communication by Anthony Wilden (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London and New York, 1987) pp. xv + 432, ISBN 0-7100-9868-5
Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick (Cardinal, London, 1989) pp. 352, $14.99, ISBN 0-7474-0413-5
And The Band Played On: Politics, People and the Aids Epidemic by Randy Shilts (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1987) pp. xxiii + 630, paper $24.95, ISBN 0-14-011130-1