and development. Cooperation is already prevalent in academia, but not in industry, except for joint ventures.
In the past, industry has not favored cooperative research and development because of concern about antitrust violations and loss of proprietary advantage. Obviously, neither of these considerations has inhibited cooperative research and development at universities.
Since the easing of antitrust regulations for cooperative precommercial research and development and the pressures on industry due to increased worldwide competition, there are indications of a movement toward joint technology efforts. In the United States, there is a Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) made up of about 20 companies that are cooperating in the precommercial development of technology. Examples in Europe include the European Strategic Program for Research and Development in Information Technology (ESPRIT), the Alvey Directorate and associated activities in Great Britain, and certain projects of the European Economic Community (EEC). In Japan, there is the fifth-generation computer project and other activities sponsored by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Although it is still early, certain examples show promise that these consortia and collaborations will yield good research and development results.
The true test of the success of these joint activities is whether or not research and development will find application in the companies that are supporting it. Will it be possible to transfer technology from these joint activities back to the companies? Although there are encouraging signs, that answer is still an unknown.
One major impetus for cooperative activity is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to hold on to their competitive edge. This difficulty is due to the rapid diffusion of technology; the obsolescence of existing facilities and the high capital costs of new facilities, particularly in microelectronics and some of the new fields; the complexity of scientific and technological endeavors that are too big for any one company; economies of scale; and the discontinuity between R&D and commercialization of research results.
These problems could be mitigated through increased collaboration, but there are barriers to cooperative efforts. The most serious of these is the cultural barrier, or the difficulty that engineers and scientists have in accepting technology from an external source, let alone another nation. This “notinvented-here” syndrome is a strong phenomenon in the United States. It appears to be less strong in Japan, for Japan has been extremely successful in transferring U.S. technology and applying it to new products.
Protectionism is a barrier not only when it is instituted by government but also when it exists between companies. The latter is due to a company’s desire to retain proprietary advantage. However, with the rapid diffusion of