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Executive Summary Japanese technology and industry management (J/TIM) practices have evolved in a cultural and economic context unique to Japan. The interaction between industrial organizations in Japan, combined with established patterns of government-business relations, labor-management relations, and other economic and social relationships, has created business and economic systems in Japan that are distinctly different from Western models of corporate organization and governance. It is essential, therefore, that studies of, and training in, J/TIM employ a framework of analysis and interpretation that places these management practices in the appropriate context. The U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Program, established by the Congress and managed by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), provides the opportunity for U.S. academics to broaden and deepen their understanding of the multifaceted sources of Japanese industrial success and to convey that understanding to practitioners in U.S. industry and government laboratories. As stated in the authorizing legislation (see Appendix A), the program is intended to "prepare scientists, engineers, and managers to learn from their Japanese counterparts by being able to work closely with them throughout their careers in government or industry" and "help keep U.S. industry abreast of Japanese scientific and technical developments and their importance." To accomplish this, the AFOSR has funded nine universities or university consortia to augment research and training in Japanese technology and management practices; to expand language training, particularly for engineering and management students; to provide opportunities for internships in Japan; and to encourage participation in the programs by government scientists and engineers. (The Request for Proposal issued by the AFOSR is in Appendix B.) The recipient universities and centers for the first three years of the program are listed below. After the program was under way, the AFOSR asked the National Research Council to form the Committee to Assess U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Programs to review the program's progress and to recommend steps to maximize the value of the program to U.S. industry and government. The committee has concluded that, for the program to meet the objectives of the Congress and to genuinely enhance U.S. understanding of J/TIM, a multidisciplinary approach to research, education, and training must be used, and an aggressive effort must be made to disseminate the results to industry.
Learning from Japan 1991 1992 1993 Massachusetts Institute of Technology The University of Michigan Vanderbilt University The University of Wisconsin/EAGLE*/NTU* University of California-Berkeley University of New Mexico/University of Texas at Austin University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University Stanford University Massachusetts Institute of Technology University City Science Center The University of Michigan The University of Washington The University of Wisconsin/EAGLE*/NTU* * Eagle is the Engineering Alliance for Engineering Education, a consortium of 13 engineering schools. ** NTU is the National Technological University. The funding for this program has provided the opportunity to create a strong academic specialization in J/TIM, which would augment engineering and management education. An academic specialization in J/TIM would incorporate appropriate disciplines, including language, culture, economics, engineering, business, and management, to create an integrated, multidisciplinary academic program with the richness necessary to strengthen understanding of the complexities of Japanese technology management. Building such a multidisciplinary specialization would provide a framework for research, publications, curriculum development, and continuing education activities. Yet, making this specialization as relevant and useful as possible will require input from industry, and industry must, in turn, be convinced of the value of the program. Achieving these twin goalsâcreating a strong academic specialization and ensuring its relevance to the needs of U.S. industryâshould guide the future management of the program. PROGRAM ASSESSMENT In reviewing the first eight of the programs funded by the AFOSR, the committee noted that each has a somewhat different emphasis. With some exceptions, the elements included in the programs are research, language and culture training, internships, and outreach to industry and government laboratories. In all of these areas, the committee found that the
Executive Summary 3 programs are making good progress in implementing what they had proposed to the AFOSR. Despite this progress, the committee does not believe that the individual programs have advanced as far as is needed to accomplish the goals of the overall AFOSR program. The committee noted that many of the research projects were already defined prior to the AFOSR grant and had simply been given a Japanese slant, so AFOSR funding was being used to augment existing research projects. Much of the research effort is focused in relatively few industries, such as electronics, computers, and automobiles, leaving many industries untouched. Much greater coordination among the programs is needed to broaden and diversify research efforts. Internships are being emphasized by most of the schools, though not without difficulty. Many schools noted the increasing difficulty of placing interns in Japanese firms during the current recession there, which resulted in fewer intern placement opportunities, shorter durations of internships, and increasing difficulty in funding the interns' stays. The committee believes this situation could be improved by greater coordination of intern placements among the schools and by instituting consistent, rigorous language and technical proficiency requirements for intern eligibility. To ensure the maximum benefit from the visit, every effort should be made to select only the most prepared and dedicated students. The primary shortcoming noted by the committee is the relative lack of attention to developing and teaching courses on J/TIM practices. Curriculum, to the extent any is in place, focuses on language training, and a wide variety of language courses have been made available to management and engineering students as a part of these programs. However, very few courses on J/TIM practices have been instituted, and few courses on Japanese culture, history, and economics have been developed outside of what might be covered in language courses. Although curriculum development has not been part of the AFOSR's Request for Proposal, and the committee recognizes the difficulty of implementing new curricula in universities, especially multidisciplinary curricula, this lack of attention raises serious questions about how much training the U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Program is providing. The committee believes that the programs are adding value by exposing more engineers and managers to Japanese language and providing more internship opportunities. But much more is possible and needed. Achieving moreâspecifically, creating a viable, multidisciplinary academic specialization in J/TIMâwill require a great deal more cooperation and collective action than has been apparent to date. It will also require an explicit recognition of the obstacles presented by the academic culture that must be overcome, in curriculum development, faculty development, and organizational structures and hierarchies. OUTREACH TO INDUSTRY The committee believes that, for the overall AFOSR program to be effective, the program must be responsive to and provide value to industry, including government laboratories. Many of the individual programs have asked industry and laboratory managers
4 Learning from Japan what their expectations of the programs are. In response, most of the programs have created conferences, seminars, lecture series, and part-time courses to respond to the needs of midcareer professionals. Much more is needed to gain the acceptance, even enthusiasm, of customers in industry. In essence, this program needs to be more aggressive in marketing itself to industry and government laboratories. Program directors need to seek industry input constantly for research topics, course material, and subjects for conferences and lectures. They need to convince managers in industry that the training objectives of the program are useful. This is likely to be a long-term process, but, by constantly seeking input, producing graduates that companies find valuable, generating research results that are useful and timely, and working hard to be responsive, these programs can help to generate enthusiasm in industry. RECOMMENDATIONS The committee recognizes and has tried to convey throughout the report the difficulties that arise in efforts to create a new academic specialization, as J/TIM could become; the problems in achieving effective coordination across academic institutions; and the fundamental problems of marketing the benefits of studying and teaching J/TIM to U.S. industry, which remains largely ambivalent about it. None of the problems are easy to overcome, particularly given the limited resources for the program provided by the Congress. However, the committee believes that, with appropriate adjustments to the management of the program, it can be much stronger in the future. Most of the management adjustments depend on closer coordination among the funded schools. The strengths of each should be recognized and coordinated contributions made by each to the overall research agenda, intern placements, curriculum development, and outreach efforts. The objective should be to create a strong national program, the sum of which is much stronger than the individual parts. Achieving the needed level of coordination will require changes in the approach taken so far to implement the program. Sustained Funding None of the awardees has had any assurance of sustained funding beyond the two-year grants awarded. The three schools that received new funding after the initial two years did so on the basis of new proposals. Although the uncertainty of congressional funding for the program makes this approach to awards understandable, the committee believes that assurance of sustained funding for awardees for a five-year period would be beneficial to their planning and implementation efforts. In particular, it would create a stronger basis for the coordination the committee deems essential to achieve long-term program goals. Sustained funding would also provide the AFOSR with a basis for stronger overall program management by making continued funding conditional on program performance, rather than proposal quality.
Executive Summary 5 Performance Criteria Receiving sustained funding must be conditional on a clear set of performance criteria. The committee recommends criteria such as: â¢ evidence of growing industry support, such as sponsored research; â¢ evidence of effective, aggressive outreach efforts; â¢ evidence of the general strength of the program as measured by enrollments, language proficiency of graduates, diversity of intern placements, implementation of appropriate J/TIM and culture courses, and effective placements of graduates; and â¢ demonstrated willingness to cooperate with other awardees. The implementing of such performance criteria by the AFOSR should be planned carefully to give awardees opportunities to make the necessary modifications in their programs, since these criteria were not included in past requests for proposals. Central Coordination To achieve the needed level of coordination among all the awardees, the AFOSR should consider reserving some small portion of the funding for coordination activities. These might include a central intern placement office in Japan, funding a permanent director from academia to manage the overall program, and funding frequent meetings of the individual program directors. Future Program Funding Uncertainty in the level of congressional funding for the program each year has been detrimental to progress. This situation has been complicated by the reduction of funding in fiscal year 1994 from $10 million to $5 million. Although it is difficult to judge the level of funding necessary to ensure a viable program, the committee believes that $5 million is probably insufficient to sustain all of the nine awardees currently being funded. That amount would result in grants of slightly more than $500,000 per awardee to pay for faculty salaries, institutional overhead, and student support. One program director has estimated that these and other program costs amount to $40-45,000 per student, so $500,000 will support very few students. Reduced funding will increase pressure on awardees to find alternative funding sources and is likely to force the AFOSR to cut the number of programs funded.
6 Learning from Japan CONCLUSION The committee has outlined an ambitious plan for the future of the AFOSR's U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Program. Obstacles to fulfilling these ambitions are many, ranging from indifference on the part of much of industry to rigid academic organizations and inadequate resources. The committee is convinced that these obstacles can be overcome, but doing so will require stronger funding commitment from the Congress, appropriate incentives from the AFOSR, well-defined performance criteria, and clear expectations of what the funded universities should achieve and how the total program will operate. The potential benefits to U.S. industry are certainly worth the effort.