Experiments in Cooperation

Assessing U.S.-Russian Programs in Science and Technology

Glenn E. Schweitzer
Release Date: March 1, 1997

At the end of the cold war, the collaborative endeavors undertaken by American and Soviet scientists and engineers took on a new dimension. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian scientists, once the pride of the Soviet system, suddenly were faced with unpaid salaries, canceled journal subscriptions, inoperable experimental equipment, disconnected telephones, even the lack of heat in laboratories. Forced to look abroad for support, virtually every scientific, engineering, and educational organization has invested scarce resources in efforts to attract and retain partners from the United States. In response, U.S. government agencies have committed more than $2.6 billion to the support of joint programs, and American companies, eager to see their collaborative ventures through to fruition as well as to gain access to Russian know-how and resources, have begun routinely to pay for both ends of these arrangements.

In Experiments in Cooperation, the third book in the Twentieth Century Fund’s Russia in Transition series, Glenn E. Schweitzer examines the recent history of U.S.-Russian scientific and technological collaboration. Outlining the complex motivations of Russian and U.S. government agencies, businesses, and the scientific community, Schweitzer evaluates the successes and failures of current ventures from both the Russian and U.S. perspectives and makes recommendations for improving the outcome for both sides. In particular, Schweitzer makes a distinction between assistance and technical cooperation, focusing on the latter, and addresses the issue of tailoring programs for Russia’s distinctive needs rather than trying simply to replicate successes from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Although he recognizes that there are severe limitations on the capabilities of Russian science today, Schweitzer argues that Russian researchers are often in the best position to develop suitable proposals for cooperative ventures and to assess their merits.