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Genesis: Historical research
Reference:

Historiography of industrial technology transfer in the first third of the XX century.

Ganin Maksim Alekseevich

Teacher of history and social studies

190000, Sankt-Peterburg, Fonarnyj pereulok, d. 4, lit. A.

maxim-ganin@yandex.ru

DOI:

10.25136/2409-868X.2022.8.38605

EDN:

PQYAYQ

Received:

10-08-2022


Published:

17-08-2022


Abstract: The article examines the historiography of the transfer of industrial technologies in the first third of the XX century. This historical period is of particular interest to researchers. It was at this time that the Soviet model of forced industrial modernization was taking shape. In order to achieve the set goals in the shortest possible time, the Soviet state most actively used the mechanisms of scientific and technical cooperation with foreign countries. Thanks to the scientific and technical policy pursued by him, this cooperation soon acquired a complex, systematic character and, ultimately, took a stable form of technology transfer. The work is based on the provisions of modernization theory, according to which technology transfer is considered as one of the key mechanisms of technological modernization of production. The scientific novelty of the study lies in the fact that no detailed research of historiography on the topic has been conducted to date. The author attempts to eliminate this obvious gap. In addition, one of the goals of this study is to promote the further development of the concept of technological transfer, which involves the transition to a systematic analysis of certain facts of scientific and technical cooperation of the USSR with foreign countries. The paper concludes that despite the extensive historiography on the topic, there are still numerous gaps that have yet to be filled by scientists. At the same time, at the current stage, of particular importance is not the search for factual material itself, which is already very extensive, but the reinterpretation of existing facts from the point of view of the provisions of the theory of modernization and the concept of technological transfer. This will make it possible to bring a systematic approach to the ongoing research on the topic and to make a comprehensive study of the state's scientific and technical policy in the first third of the XX century.


Keywords:

Historiography, science and technology, international cooperation, technology transfer, modernization, soviet industry, XX century, the USSR, industrialization, scientific and technical policy

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

The innovative way of development of modern industry is inextricably linked with the concept of "technology transfer". It allows the national economy in a short time to get the R&D results that are missing for one reason or another, which can, under certain conditions, become a catalyst for national development. The effective implementation of the technology transfer mechanism allows the country's industry to accelerate the process of introducing and mastering high-tech developments in production activities and thereby gain additional competitive advantages [1, p. 349].

It should be noted that at present, science has not developed a unified approach to the definition of the concept of "technology transfer". Nevertheless, in the broadest sense, it can be characterized as the exchange of technologies, equipment, knowledge between individuals, enterprises, research centers, government structures at all levels [2, p.31].

In the history of our country, this process acquired a special role in the first third of the XX century. The fact is that it was at this time that the Soviet model of forced industrial modernization was taking shape. In order to achieve its goals in the shortest possible time, the young Soviet state was forced to intensify scientific and technical cooperation with foreign countries. Thanks to the scientific and technical policy pursued by him, this cooperation soon acquired a complex, systematic character and, ultimately, took a stable form of technology transfer.

The study of the scientific and technical policy pursued by the Soviet state in the first third of the XX century, its prerequisites, actors, goals, contexts, and effectiveness is of great scientific and practical interest, as it allows us to thoroughly show the development of science and technology of the interwar period and establish a link between the demands of practice and the development of scientific knowledge.

At the same time, research on this issue first of all requires a detailed study of historiography on the topic, which has not been conducted so far. The paper attempts to eliminate the existing gap in historical science. It is also important to note that this article is also intended to contribute to the further development of the concept of technological transfer, which involves a departure from descriptive, factual works towards conceptual ones that analyze in detail various models of foreign scientific and technical assistance and its role in the development of domestic industry and science.

The methodological basis of the work is based on the general scientific dialectical method of cognition, which includes the principles of historicism, objectivity and consistency in the analysis of historical phenomena. The work is also based on the provisions of modernization theory, according to which technology transfer is considered as one of the key mechanisms of technological modernization of production.

Soviet Historiography of Industrial Transfer

the first third of the XX century.

Many books and articles have been devoted to the problem of modernization of Soviet industry in the 1920s - early 1930s, as well as issues of cooperation between the USSR and other countries within the framework of this process.

Already in the pre-war period, the first works appeared, in which assessments of the country's industrialization policy were given. Despite the obvious agitation, propaganda nature, as well as a high degree of politicization, they nevertheless accumulated a significant amount of factual information of some scientific interest. Among them are generalizing [3, 4, 5], sectoral [6, 7, 8] and regional works [9, 10, 11].

In the above-mentioned works, information about the use of foreign technical assistance is repeatedly found. In particular, it could be about imported equipment, foreign business trips, production activities of foreign workers and specialists, as well as technical assistance provided by foreign firms on the basis of concluded technical assistance agreements. However, these issues were not the subject of independent study in them.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the first works directly devoted to various aspects of cooperation between the USSR and foreign countries appeared. During the years of the NEP, the authors mainly considered the implementation of the concession policy. Among the works published at this time, one can note the works of R. Arsky [12], V. Butkovsky [13], K. Weidemuller [14] and a number of other authors.

In the early 1930s, the problem of the influence of imports of machine products on the development of domestic industry began to be investigated [15, 16]. In the work of R. Ya . Anders noted that industrial imports were necessary for the early formation of their own industrial base and were temporary. According to the author, the achievement of this goal contributed to reducing dependence on Western countries in the technical field and led to a significant decrease in the share of imports in the structure of the country's trade balance. At the same time, R. J. Anders analyzed in detail the state of the industry of Western European states in the conditions of the crisis and concluded that the difficult economic situation pushed them to increase the volume of imports of their products to the USSR. This, in turn, allowed the Soviet side to conclude agreements on more favorable terms for itself.

Works were also actively published, which covered the issues of inviting foreign specialists to the USSR, their life, work, and role in the industrial development of the USSR [17, 18, 19]. Some authors also wrote about the problematic aspects that arose. For example, F. Rubiner stated that Soviet workers and specialists in some cases demonstrated a hostile attitude towards foreigners and did not seek cooperation with them [20].

In general, the works of this period, written by engineers, economists, etc., can be considered not only in a historiographical context, but also as a historical source reflecting the dynamics of the scientific and technical policy of the USSR in the interwar decades.

By the end of the 1930s, publications devoted to the issues of cooperation between the USSR and Western countries were becoming rarer, and since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, no special research on this topic has been found at all. However, already in the post-war years, interest in this topic is gradually increasing, including in the West.

In the 1950s, a number of works by foreign authors were published, in which an attempt was made to determine the degree of influence of technical imports and the assistance of foreign specialists on the industrial and scientific-technical development of the USSR in the 1920s - 1930s [21, 22, 23]. In these works, various aspects of the scientific and technical cooperation of the Soviet Union with other countries were analyzed in detail, and the conclusion is made about the decisive role of foreign aid in the formation of Soviet industry. This position has become dominant abroad for many years.

In the 1950s and 1960s, studies devoted to the history of the formation and development of individual large enterprises appeared in the USSR. They covered the issues of using foreign technical assistance in the construction and modernization of industrial complexes and, first of all, attracting foreign labor. Such works include the works of V. N. Eliseeva [24], N. V. Cherepenin [25], P. G. Matushkin [26], M. Y. Khazina [27], N. P. Sharapov [28] and others.

In the mid-1960s, the work of V. I. Kasyanenko was published, in which he elaborated on the issues of industrial imports, as well as the role of foreign technical assistance and concessions in industrialization and achieving the technical and economic independence of the USSR. In addition, the author investigated the issues of attracting foreigners to work in the USSR, as well as the organization of business trips of domestic specialists abroad. In the course of his research, V. I. Kasyanenko came to the conclusion that foreign technical assistance did not play a decisive role in the formation and development of Soviet industry. At the same time, in his opinion, the most useful for the Soviet side was such a direction of cooperation with foreign countries as the import of equipment. Other forms of industrial and technical cooperation with foreign companies, such as concessions and technical assistance agreements, were not widely used in the USSR [29].

In addition to this work, V.I. Kasyanenko paid special attention to the study of the problems of Soviet-American cooperation in the industrial sphere in the 1920s and 1930s. During the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, he published a number of works on this topic [30, 31, 32].

In the late 1960s, the works of K. T. Lukyanov [33] and A. E. Ioffe [34] were published. These authors investigated international relations in scientific, technical and cultural fields, the participation of foreigners in the socio-political life of the USSR and the training of Soviet engineering and technical personnel in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1983, a monograph by V.A. Shishkin was published, in which various forms of using foreign experience were investigated. The author came to the conclusion that the most effective form of using foreign scientific and technical experience were technical assistance agreements, which, unlike concession agreements, made a significant contribution to the development of various branches of Soviet industry [35].

In the dissertation of Yu.A. Pantsyrev, devoted to the international relations of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the interwar period, the issue of sending domestic scientists abroad (including to Germany) was considered in detail. The author noted that in the early years of the existence of Soviet power, such trips were the main form of international academic relations of the Soviet Republic (Pantsyrev, Yu. A. International relations of the USSR Academy of Sciences in the interwar period. Autoref... Doctor of Historical Sciences / Yu. A. Pantsyrev. - M., 1991. - 48 p.).

The sensational monograph by Y.L. Dyakov and T.S. Bushueva "The Fascist sword was forged in the USSR" provided information concerning previously unknown parties to Soviet-German cooperation mainly in the military and military-technical field, bypassing the terms of the Versailles Treaty. In this work, the authors not only summarized and rethought the events and facts of interaction between the USSR and Germany that have already been studied in one way or another, but also paid close attention to materials containing information about the origins and motives of decision-making on a number of significant issues of Soviet-German cooperation in the military-technical field [36].

Modern historiography of industrial transfer

the first third of the XX century.

At the present stage, the issues of industrial development of the USSR and international cooperation in the scientific and technical sphere have been widely covered in the works of various authors.

Speaking directly about the first third of the XX century, it should be noted modern generalizing works aimed at a comprehensive study of the industrial policy of the USSR during this period [37], as well as studies devoted directly to the problems of the NEP [38, 39, 40]. Less common are generalizing scientific studies that directly study the problems of the implementation of the first five-year plan. The works in which this topic is touched upon are either primarily journalistic in nature [41], or are specialized on a regional or sectoral basis.

The issues of the formation and implementation of the concession policy, as well as other forms of industrial and scientific-technical cooperation of the USSR with various countries, primarily with Germany and the USA, are being actively studied [42, 43, 44]. The contribution of individual personalities to the formation of stable ties with Western countries has not been ignored [45, 46].

A group of scientists studied various aspects of scientific cooperation between the USSR and Germany, including the organization of joint research, expeditions and "weeks of scientists", the reasons for the flourishing and crisis of this cooperation [47].

A number of studies are devoted to the formation of the state policy of sending Soviet specialists abroad in the 1920s - 1930s and its features [48, 49]. Also, the attention of scientists is attracted by the issues of recruiting foreign workers and specialists in the USSR during the period under review [50, 51] (note that this topic is mainly developed on regional material).

Speaking about modern branch works, it should be noted that most of them are devoted to the formation and development of the military industry and military-technical cooperation with Germany [52, 53, 54, 55], as well as the oil industry of the USSR [56, 57]. Nevertheless, in a number of works, the authors consider the influence of foreign scientific and technical assistance on the formation of other branches of Soviet industry in the 1920s - 1930s [58, 59].

Most actively at the present stage, work is underway to study the history of the development of large regional industrial centers: the Urals [60, 61, 62], Kuzbass [63, 64], the Far East (Bezgin, S. V. Implementation of a new economic policy in industry in the Soviet Far East in 1922-1929. Abstract ... Candidate of Historical Sciences / S. V. Bezgin. - Khabarovsk, 2010. - 26 p.), Volga region [65], (Malyugin, A. I. Formation and development of the forest and timber processing industry in Chuvashia (1917-1941). Abstract ... Candidate of Historical Sciences / A. I. Malyugin. Cheboksary, 2011. - 22 p.) and others. Most of them are devoted to individual industries of a particular region. In the regional context, the role of foreign technical assistance in the formation of key industrial centers of the country is actively investigated [66, 67, 68].

Within the framework of regional works, special attention is paid to scientific research, which examines the formation and development of the Leningrad industrial complex - one of the largest scientific, technical and industrial centers of the country.

S. B. Ulyanova explores discussions about the development of "old" industrial centers, which included Leningrad [69], and also discusses general issues of the organization of industrial life of the city [70, 71]. E.S. Makeeva studies the topic of the development of the natural resource potential of the Leningrad region at the turn of the 1920s-1930s [72].

In the case of Leningrad, scientists have extensively studied the formation and development of the military industry in the first third of the XX century, as well as cooperation in this area with foreign countries (primarily Germany) [73, 74, 75].

Among the works in which the military-technical cooperation of the Leningrad defense industry with foreign countries is considered, one of the works of P. P. Minaev attracts attention. In it, the author analyzed the first steps to establish military-technical cooperation in the first half of the 1920s and studied its further development in the conditions of industrialization in the second half of the 1920s - 1930s [76].

It should also be noted the monograph by D. A. Bochinin devoted to the problem of the origin and subsequent evolution of the Leningrad aviation industry in 1909 1941. Within the framework of this work, the author pays close attention to the specifics of cooperation of the Leningrad aviation industry with foreign firms, in particular with the German companies Heinkel (aviation catapult), Luftshifbau-Zeppelin (construction of airships), Telefunken (radio communications), Krupp (metal smelting) [77].

Consideration of various aspects of cooperation between the Leningrad industrial complex and abroad is not limited exclusively to the military sphere. In particular, T. V. Alekseev wrote a work devoted to the issues of attracting foreign technical assistance for the modernization of the Leningrad communications industry in the 1920s and 1930s. [78], M. S. Vinokur and A. Y. Pidzhakov published an article in which the contribution of foreigners to the formation and development of Soviet industry in the early 1930s was studied on the materials of Leningrad years [79], etc.

At the same time, it should be noted that, despite the availability of publications on the topic of cooperation of Leningrad enterprises with foreign countries in certain industries, there are currently no comprehensive historical and technical studies in the historiographical field devoted to the impact of the transfer of industrial technologies on the formation and development of Leningrad industry and science. At the same time, Leningrad was one of the largest scientific, technical and industrial centers of the country. After the difficult period of the First World War, revolutions and Civil War, its restoration and development required the involvement of all possible resources, including foreign (primarily German) scientific and technical assistance, the real volume and significance of which still remain unexplored to the full. Thus, a comprehensive study of the issue is an important task that researchers have yet to solve.

Conclusions

Within the framework of this article, an attempt has been made to investigate in detail the historiography of the transfer of industrial technologies in the first third of the XX century, from the Soviet period to the present. In the course of the conducted research, it was possible to establish that, despite the extensive historiography on the topic, there are numerous gaps that historians have yet to fill (we are talking primarily about the role of technological transfer in the formation and development of a number of industries, regional scientific and industrial centers and individual enterprises). In addition, it can be stated that most of the published works are mainly descriptive, factual in nature.

Modern authors often pay attention only to individual manifestations of scientific and technical cooperation of the USSR with foreign counterparties, without comprehensively addressing the issues of the state's scientific and technical policy. As a result, when analyzing individual works, it often seems that the scientific and technical cooperation of the USSR with foreign countries was of a point, fragmentary nature.

At the same time, the analysis of the entire array of conducted surveys leads us to the opposite opinion. We see not only the colossal scale of this process, which has covered entire industries, but also certain patterns in the issues of attracting and using foreign technical assistance.

Thus, it becomes obvious that modern researchers should not limit themselves exclusively to the search for new stories that testify to certain facts of scientific and technical cooperation of the USSR with foreign countries. It is more important to reinterpret them from the point of view of the provisions of the modernization theory and the concept of technological transfer. This would make it possible to bring a systematic approach to the ongoing research on the topic. The knowledge gained about the scientific and technical policy pursued by the state in the most difficult foreign policy conditions of the first third of the XX century will undoubtedly be useful to our country in modern realities.

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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

Over the past few years, the Euro-Atlantic community, in response to the sovereign course of the Russian Federation, has been trying to impose a tough sanctions policy on our country, including in order to prevent the penetration of innovative technologies. Under these conditions, it is important to study the historical experience of the formation of technologies in the Soviet period of 1920-1930. It is known that during this period, our country faced both sanctions from the Western world, and the need to restore industry after the world and civil wars, as well as the importance of meeting the advanced technologies of the leading countries of the world. These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the historiography of technology transfer in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. The author aims to analyze the Soviet and modern Russian historiography of technology transfer, as well as identify existing gaps. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is a systematic approach, which is based on the consideration of the object as an integral complex of interrelated elements. The author also uses a comparative method in his work. The scientific novelty of the article is also determined by the very formulation of the topic: as the author himself notes, "this article is intended to contribute to the further development of the concept of technological transfer, which involves a departure from descriptive, factual works towards conceptual ones that analyze in detail various models of foreign scientific and technical assistance and its role in the development of domestic industry and science." Considering the bibliographic list of the article, its scale and versatility should be noted as a positive point: in total, the list of references includes up to 80 different sources and studies, which in itself speaks about the large-scale preparatory work that its author has done. It seems superfluous to list even a part of the literature cited by the author in the bibliography for the reason that its main body is considered in one form or another in the reviewed article. Let us add that the bibliography is important both from a scientific and educational point of view: after reading the text of the article, readers can turn to other materials on its topic. In general, in our opinion, the integrated use of various sources and research contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to scientific, at the same time understandable not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone interested in both the history of industry in the USSR, in general, and technology transfer, in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author defines the relevance of the topic, shows that "the scientific and technical policy pursued by the Soviet state in the first third of the 20th century, its prerequisites, actors, goals, contexts, and effectiveness is of great scientific and practical interest, since it allows us to thoroughly show the development of science and technology of the interwar period and establish a link between the demands of practice and the development of scientific knowledge." The paper shows that "The study of the scientific and technical policy pursued by the Soviet state in the first third of the 20th century, its prerequisites, actors, goals, contexts, and effectiveness is of great scientific and practical interest, as it allows us to thoroughly show the development of science and technology of the interwar period and establish a link between the demands of practice and the development of scientific knowledge". It is noteworthy that, as the author of the reviewed article notes, "Modern authors often pay attention only to individual manifestations of scientific and technical cooperation between the USSR and foreign contractors, without comprehensively addressing the issues of scientific and technical policy pursued by the state." The main conclusion of the article is that the acquired "knowledge about the scientific and technical policy pursued by the state in the most difficult foreign policy conditions of the first third of the 20th century will undoubtedly be useful to our country in modern realities." The article submitted for review is devoted to an urgent topic, will arouse readers' interest, and its materials can be used both in training courses and as part of a know-how development strategy. There are separate comments to the article: for example, the work "The Fascist Sword was forged in the USSR" both in spirit and in time can hardly be attributed to the Soviet historiography of the issue under consideration. However, in general, in our opinion, the article can be recommended for publication in the journal Genesis: Historical Research.
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