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Outreach to Industry In addition to strengthening the academic specialization of J/TIM, the committee sees as a major objective of the AFOSR program the strengthening of the U.S. industrial manufacturing and research base through improved understanding of Japanese industry and technology management and the cultural context in which it is applied. Achieving this objective can be best accomplished through aggressive outreach to industry and government laboratories to determine what the expectations of these customers are and how best to meet them. To their credit, many of the programs have actively sought input from the local industrial and technical communities regarding development of their programs. All of the programs have organized conferences, workshops, and other meetings of interested parties from industry; all provide evening and part-time courses and seminars that are convenient for midcareer students; and several have been broadcasting courses and seminars over various networks, with NTU the most extensive. In addition, many of the programs have contacted relevant government laboratories to provide them with information about program offerings or to tailor special courses or seminars to the interests of laboratory researchers. Although these efforts have met with varied success in terms of participation, these mechanisms deserve emphasis as practical ways to meet the needs of midcareer professionals, as reflected in Table 2-1. Despite the efforts to create and market activities that can reach industrial participants, many of the programs have found the level of industry interest to be disappointing. Much of the corporate United States does not see an urgent need to have J/TIM expertise resident in the corporation and often does not take advantage of it by employing engineers and managers with Japanese experience or expertise in Japan-related activities. The full value in having a strong understanding of J/TIMâfrom insights into the structure and processes of Japanese organizations to timely knowledge of Japanese technological and scientific developmentsâis not generally recognized by many U.S. firms. An additional task for the J/TIM programs, therefore, is to build a convincing case of this valueâto help companies understand the long-term returns from J/TIM investmentsâand to market this case aggressively. Generating change in industry, both to support research and training in J/TIM and to change management practices as a result, is another major challenge to the programs funded by AFOSR. Generally speaking, that change begins to happen in earnest for a company when the top management becomes determined to change. Without that determination, educating and training those in the middle and lower ranks will likely be a frustrating exercise for both the trainers and the trainees who are willing and eager to learn. A graduating engineer or scientist who understands Japanese management methods and starts his or her career in a company that has not yet become determined to change will most 31
32 Learning from Japan likely become frustrated and move on, or adopt existing practices and eventually forget the things learned previously. Seeding a company with entry-level engineers, scientists, and managers with training in J/TTM and waiting for them to move into high enough levels and positions throughout the company that they can lead in the change will be a very long process. Once the company's top management becomes determined to change, it will be important for others in the organization to become knowledgeable about Japanese management practices and to become capable of dealing with and learning from their counterparts in Japan, whether for the purpose of acquiring additional insight on management techniques in general, applying those techniques to their company's processes, or gaining technical knowledge relative to their processes and products. For a company of any size, there will be many employees at many levels of the company, from top and middle management to technical scientists and engineers, who will need to understand Japanese management practices. To foster understanding, many of these individuals could profit from direct contact with their Japanese counterparts. There will also be many others in the company who may not directly interface with the Japanese but could make valuable use of access to Japanese technical information for the purpose of keeping abreast of technical developments thereâwhich is the other objective of the legislation. Once the value of J/TIM knowledge is recognized by top management and others in a company's hierarchy, support for the J/TIM programs from industry, including participation by experienced engineers and scientists, should grow. Helping companies get to this point is the difficult marketing task of the J/TIM programs. One approach, at least initially, may be to target specific firms that have shown interest in improving their management practices and learning more about Japan. Many of the programs already have a short list of companies interested in the program who may cosponsor it, such as the sponsors of the MIT Japan Program, or serve on an advisory board, such as at Berkeley. J/TIM programs may also be able to link more closely with other programs at the university geared to industry outreach. For instance, closer links between the MIT Japan Program and its Leaders for Manufacturing program might be beneficial to both programs. By targeting their outreach efforts at the top and middle level of interested companies, the programs will raise awareness of their activities and capabilities in the broader industrial community; acquire a stronger sense of what the market demands from an audience who is interested; and succeed in adapting research, courses, and dissemination mechanisms in a way that will generate continued industry interest from a broader base of companies. Another approach to generate specific company interest is for individual programs to target specific industries and to market the results to companies in those industries. As was pointed out in Chapter 2, the AFOSR should strive to have a greater variety of industries addressed by its funded universities. The current focus on electronics, computers, and automobiles is understandable given the location of the awardees. Expanding the list to include industries such as aerospace, biotechnology, manufacturing process equipment, and others would not only enhance the coverage of Japanese technological developments but also provide a strong basis for greater industry involvement in the programs. The objective would be to create an awareness of the competitive position of the U.S. industry and of
Outreach to Industry 33 companies in the industry, vis-a-vis Japan. A good example of a university being involved with an industry over a period of time and helping it to understand its true competitive position is the long-term work of the University of Michigan with the auto industry. This approach to the J/TIM programs would also provide a much stronger basis for cooperation among the different schools, reduce research redundancy, and provide a broader constituency for marketing and dissemination of results. Another approach to marketing that these programs should not overlook is contact with the human resource managers in industrial companies, instead of company chairmen or research and development directors. Human resource managers are senior vice presidents in many companies, in a strong position to identify the kinds of skills the company needs and to help program directors tailor their efforts to fill those needs. Maintaining close contact with human resource managers also helps to provide a mechanism to assist program graduates with effective placements in industry. To help bring the resources and capabilities of J/TIM programs to the attention of smaller companies, the programs should make themselves known to federal and state industrial assistance programs, such as the manufacturing technology centers sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The staff of these programs should be invited to participate in J/TIM programs so they can pass their knowledge on to their clients in industry. They can also inform smaller firms of the J/TIM programs, so those firms would be more likely to participate directly. Finally, in addition to industrial firms and government laboratories, another market that the programs should not overlook is that of lawyers, financiers, government policy makers, and others who work closely with the Japanese but in service areas indirectly linked to industrial activities. These lawmakers and service providers negotiate with their Japanese counterparts in a wide range of contexts and need a better understanding of government-business relations, legal practices, regulation, capital markets, and other aspects of the Japanese business system. Research, courses, conferences, and seminars that address the needs of these individuals are also important. Many universities have developed effective programs for the continuing education of those already in the work force. These programs often have names such as "University Extension" or "University Continuing Education," are administered by separate college deans or directors, and are usually apart from the mainstream of the other educational elements of the campus. In the case of J/TIM, such an off-campus outreach effort is central to the program, because it is scientists, engineers, and managers in industry and the national laboratories who have the most to gain from this program and who are the primary targets of the supporting legislation. Perhaps the most critical uncertainty relating to this program concerns the utilization by U.S. industry of the talented people produced by these programs. The overarching goal of the program is to learn from Japanese practices how to improve U.S. technology and industry management. Therefore, the lessons must be useful to and applied by U.S. industry if they are to have direct impact. Critical questions are whether U.S. industry is really interested in Japanese science and technology information, whether and how U.S. researchers can observe good management of technology practices in Japan and learn from them by adapting the lessons to the U.S. context, and whether U.S. industry values the skills
34 Learning from Japan of the "Japan ready" engineers and managers who are nurtured by these programs. The only way for the programs to answer these questions is through a continuing dialogue with industry and national laboratoriesâthe primary "customers" of the programsâto ascertain their needs and priorities and to work with them to develop career tracks for individuals.