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6 Conclusions and Recommendations The U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Program is now over three years old. Three sets of proposals have been submitted, and first-round awardees (except Vanderbilt) have received additional funding beyond the initial two-year awards. After spending more than a year reviewing the first eight awardees, the Committee to Assess U.S.-Japan Industry and Technology Management Training Program is generally impressed with the effort each awardee has put into fulfilling the tasks described in their proposals. Language training has been augmented, a few new courses have been developed and more are planned, and research efforts seem to be proceeding well. The greatest accomplishments to date are that more engineering and management students are learning the Japanese language; a greater number of interns are being placed in Japanese industry and laboratories; and a growing number of seminars, conferences, and other outreach mechanisms are being used to educate U.S. managers about Japanese technology and management practices. However, the committee could also take a less optimistic view of the results of the program to date. Research efforts have ignored several aspects of J/TIM that the committee perceives as important; there is substantial overlap in the industries receiving research attention; and relatively few research projects appear to have been created as a direct result of AFOSR funding. Because few new courses have been developed, a core curriculum in J/TIM has yet to emerge. The training being provided, therefore, is almost exclusively language training. Although language training is a critical part of the skills this program should provide, there is much more to J/TIM that should be conveyed to students. The language training often serves mainly to prepare students for internships, and most of these programs have placed a great deal of emphasis on internships as the primary mechanism for educating students in J/TIM practices and culture. Although placing engineering and management students in Japanese internships does provide valuable experience, this approach to the training aspects of the program does not ensure that real understanding of J/TIM practices is gained, and it limits the number of students acquiring valuable J/TIM skills. Much more can be, and needs to be, accomplished by this AFOSR program. The committee recognizes, and has tried to convey, 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 a U.S. industry that remains largely indifferent. 39
40 Learning from Japan None of these problems is easy to overcome, particularly given the limited resources for the program provided by the Congress. With a clear vision of what can be accomplished, however, and appropriate adjustments to the management of the program, this committee believes the program can be much stronger in the future. PROGRAM EXPECTATIONS The previous chapters have described appropriate expectations for the total AFOSR program. These expectations are summarized here for each of the program elements: Research. First, research funded under this program should focus on Japanese management of technology, including its cultural context as it varies across industries and companies. Second, greater coordination across the funded schools would help to minimize duplication. Third, a greater diversity of Japanese industries should receive research attention; the committee has suggested aerospace, machine tools and other manufacturing process equipment, advanced materials, and biotechnology, in addition to the areas of electronics, computers, and automobiles that are being addressed now. Explicit discussion among the current program directors could prioritize this list and begin to identify specific research projects. Fourth, the experience of Japanese-managed operations in this and other countries, in many different industries, should be examined more closely. The goal of these efforts is to diversify research in order to strengthen U.S. understanding of Japanese technology management practices and to broaden the relevance of the total J/TIM program. The AFOSR should make use of its funds for research conditional on more diverse coverage of industries. This condition should be made clear in future requests for proposals. Achieving this diversity in research projects could be spurred by placing greater emphasis on research sponsored by industry or government laboratories. Curriculum. A consistent, well-defined curriculum in J/TIM and Japanese culture should be a key characteristic of every program funded by the AFOSR. Such a curriculum would not require many coursesâprobably less than ten. Some minimum number of core courses should also be defined. The content of these courses should be tailored for application in both for-credit courses and continuing education courses for midcareer professionals. Discussion among the program directors and participating faculty should be required in order to define the content of this curriculum and to develop a plan to cooperate on its development and implementation. Language training. Given the emphasis each program has placed on language training, this is the strongest aspect of the program to date. Nonetheless, there is a need to develop explicit language proficiency expectations for different types of students and standard tests for the overall program. In particular, potential interns should be required to meet rigorous general and technical language proficiencies. Again, consensus among the program directors is the way to develop the needed standards. Internships. Effective intern placements require significant advanced planning in Japan and rigorous preparation by the interns. Placements should be well matched to the interns' technical expertise. To improve the availability of intern placements and the effectiveness
Conclusions and Recommendations 41 of the resources being used to find those placements, a central coordinator should be established in Japan. This coordinator role could be played by one of the offices maintained in Tokyo by some of the funded schools, MIT or Stanford for example, or it could be run and staffed directly by the AFOSR, or some other arrangement may be possible. Alternatives to internships in Japan, such as in Japanese plants in the United States or elsewhere, should also be explored. Interns should be required to submit periodic progress reports and to write reports when the internship is finished, including lessons learned and technology assessments. They should also prepare a report or perform some type of project for the sponsoring firm. Finally, every effort should be made to link interns to commercial sponsors in U.S. industry who will expose the student to domestic management practices and provide practical technical benchmarks prior to the internship in Japan. Outreach. The programs should develop strong ties to industry, both locally and nationally. Efforts to diversify research should generate broader industry interest, but aggressive marketing efforts should also be put in place. Courses, seminars, lectures, and other media should be made available at times and in ways convenient to midcareer professionals. Outreach efforts should extend beyond the large companies most likely to provide financial support to include small and medium-sized firms who might benefit the most from the training provided by the programs. Efforts should be made to include staff from manufacturing technology centers and other manufacturing extension services, so they can pass their knowledge on to their clients in industry. Fulfilling these expectations for the overall AFOSR program will require much more cooperation and coordination among the individual programs. The committee envisions the individual programs coming together as parts of a strong national program, rather than remaining the self-contained efforts that they are now, for the most part. Coordinated, joint efforts for industry outreach and targeted marketing of conferences and seminars would supplement their individual efforts. Curriculum development could be accelerated by greater sharing of course material and instruction. Cooperation on research would maximize the industries and subjects that could be covered. Sharing the results would speed dissemination and generate greater industry interest. FUTURE PROGRAM MANAGEMENT ISSUES Achieving the level of coordination needed to create a strong national J/TIM program has implications for future management of the program by AFOSR. Sustained Funding The most prominent issue is the question of sustained funding. The pattern established by the AFOSR so far is to request proposals every year and award two-year grants to the winners. Past awardees are encouraged to submit new proposals, but additional funding has been based on the new proposal, not past performance. Although there has been no assurance of sustained support, three of the first four awardees did receive new funding in
42 Learning from Japan the third-year grants. This approach to funding makes long-term planning by the winners very difficult, since additional funding is not assured, and it minimizes incentives to cooperate with other awardees. It also provides no basis for the AFOSR to award good performance or to penalize poor performance. The committee believes that greater assurance of sustained funding would be beneficial to the overall program. Few (maybe only MIT) of the awardees are in a position to be self-supporting. Therefore, a lack of continued funding from AFOSR risks losing the investments made to start the programs in the first place. Increasing the period of assured funding from two years to five years would provide awardees with the confidence to make the effort needed to establish curricula, generate student interest, market the program to industry, and overcome many of the institutional barriers to creating an academic specialization that are described in Chapter 4. It would also provide the AFOSR with greater leverage in achieving its goals for the overall program. Such an approach to funding has its disadvantages. Sustained funding of existing programs implies that no new programs will be funded or that funding levels will be reduced to reserve some percentage of funds for new awardees. The objectives of the overall program would be served better by funding existing programs to the fullest extent possible during start-up, when costs are high, and until alternative funding sources are secured. Once programs are financially stable, AFOSR funding to them would be reduced and could be channelled to new awardees. Performance Criteria Sustained funding must be conditional. Performance criteria should be defined and met in order to qualify for continued funding throughout the proposed five-year period. Examples of possible criteria include the following: Growing level of industrial support. A plan, including a schedule, to become self- sustaining should be part of the proposal process. General sponsorship of the program, fee income from conferences and other events, fee income from students, and industrial support through sponsored research should all be expected. If after three years industrial interest remains weak, the AFOSR should phase out funding over years four and five. â¢ Effective, aggressive outreach efforts. In addition to raising financial support from industry, the programs should exhibit close ties with local government laboratories and military facilities. Diversity in industrial contacts should also be a goal, so that the program benefits more than the largest U.S. corporations, who are more likely to send managers for J/TIM training and to support the programs financially. Creation of industrial advisory boards should also be considered. â¢ The general strength of the program as measured by enrollments, effectiveness of language training, number and diversity of intern placements (including to transplants), and implementation of appropriate courses in J/TIM and culture. Evidence that a true J/TIM training program is being implemented, not just expanded language or research efforts, should be expected.
Conclusions and Recommendations 43 Willingness to cooperate with other awardees and to contribute to the goals of the total national program. This would likely require modifying research agendas, sharing course material, cooperating on intern placements, and jointly preparing conferences. These kinds of performance criteria are the best measures of the benefits and effectiveness of a program such as this. Because of different initial circumstances, numerical comparisons among the awardees for objectives such as enrollments or research papers would be unfair; the AFOSR program manager would need to exert his or her judgment, perhaps with input from the programs' industrial customers or some similar source. Implementing use of these performance criteria should be planned carefully. Because these were not included in the requests for proposals to which the current awardees responded, it would be inappropriate to expect them to meet objectives for which they are unprepared. Instead, these performance criteria should be included in any future requests for proposals. Current awardees would be expected to submit proposals based on these new criteria if they desire continued AFOSR support. Central Coordination To achieve the needed level of coordination across all of the awardees, the AFOSR should consider reserving some small portion of the annual program budget for coordination activities. The central intern placement office in Japan, if implemented, would be an example. Another possibility the committee has discussed is to fund a program coordinator. This is not a role the AFOSR program manager could play for several reasons: program managers tend to change frequentlyâthe J/TIM program has already had three; the J/TIM program is one of several for which the program manager is responsible, so the time to be an effective coordinator is not likely to be available; and an effective coordinator would need greater understanding of academic culture and rivalries than the AFOSR program manager is likely to have. Therefore, there may be benefits gained from appointing a program coordinator from the academic community. Perhaps each of the university program directors could fill this role on a rotating basis, but a permanent coordinator for the total program would probably be more effective. This coordinator would be responsible for facilitating regular meetings of program directors and faculty, identifying and managing activities sponsored jointly by multiple participating program, and developing an identity for the national program beyond that of the individual awardees. Although such a national program coordinator would be a boon to the overall program, the committee recognizes the difficulties of employing such a manager, especially in terms of cost. Therefore, the mechanics of implementation should be discussed thoroughly, and alternatives, such as rotating this responsibility among program directors, considered.
44 Learning from Japan FUTURE PROGRAM FUNDING Congress created the AFOSR program in 1991 with $10 million and continued this level of funding for 1992 and 1993. Unfortunately, there has not been any assurance in any year that the program would continue to be funded or at what level it would be funded. Fiscal year 1994 funding has been cut to $5 million. This funding uncertainty has virtually forced the approach to proposal requests and awards that was adopted by the AFOSR. Two-year awards are all the AFOSR has felt confident enough to give. In turn, the uncertainty of continued funding has limited the planning horizon of each awardee to little more than two years. Proceeding into the future so gingerly is no way to generate and sustain the strong national program that is needed, and which this funding could provide. It is very difficult for the committee to judge how much funding is necessary to create the viable national system of J/TIM research and education envisioned by the committee. Given the jumble of existing resources used to create awardees' J/TIM programs, neither how much AFOSR funding is necessary nor the constraints that will be imposed by reduced funding are clear. However, it seems safe to assume that with nine awardees currently being funded, an annual budget of $5 million is probably insufficient to sustain all of them, let alone create more. That amount would result in grants of slightly more than $500,000 per awardee to pay for some 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. The likely result of the reduction in the federal appropriation is that it will force the AFOSR to cut the number of programs funded and will increase the pressure on awardees to raise funds from other sources. It also increases the importance of cooperation among programs to minimize redundancy and to realize the greatest value from the available resources. 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 industry indifference 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.