Technological inequalities and motivation of Soviet institutions in the scientific-technological cooperation of Comecon in Europe, 1950s–80s
This article examines Comecon’s scientific-technological cooperation via the lens of the so-called ‘direct contacts’ of Soviet industrial and research institutions and specialists. It emphasizes two particular questions: the place of institutional and technological inequality in the attempt to integrate socialist Europe; and the motivations of Soviet research and industrial institutions. The paper studies from a local perspective the way in which regional integration was to provide modern technologies to help both the bloc and the Soviet technological system beat the West. It demonstrates that technological integration of the bloc was complicated by institutional inequalities on the local level that contradicted the design and bureaucracy of cooperation that had initially been based on the principle of equality. As a result, in many cases, cooperation was not an opportunity for mutually beneficial technological development, but a formalized necessity and a source of individual benefits. It gave Soviet specialists motivation to see better techniques and higher working and living standards, which sometimes became an important incentive for cooperation.