Courtesy Reuters

Is the Gap Technological?

For some three years the so-called "technological gap" between Europe and the United States has been the subject of mounting concern to statesmen and to leaders of the business community on both sides of the Atlantic. Prime Minister Harold Wilson warns that Europe is about to succumb to a kind of "industrial helotry" to the United States. Charles de Gaulle, Ludwig Erhard and Franz-Josef Strauss speak in similar terms. It is one of the focal points for the ambivalence with which the United States is viewed by non- communist nations. Our power is feared; also it is needed. A part of the fear stems from that very need. And a part of the need is to remove the cause of fear. The time has come to sum up the diagnosis and direct our attention to the formulation of practical policies in Europe and America.

Is the gap between Europe and the United States really technological or, rather, something quite different? Is it really as serious as some of our friends in Europe appear to believe? The conclusions reached in this article indicate that the gap is managerial, not technological, and that its consequences, though serious enough to warrant Europe's attention, reflect the existence of natural comparative advantage among industrial nations. In other words, the gap between Europe and the United States should not serve as an excuse for autarkic measures and, to some extent at least, can be viewed as a necessary element in the continued international economic and political viability of the United States.

The nature and causes of the gap-whatever it may be called-should be approached through an examination of the economic, educational, cultural and political difficulties attending European attempts to advance scientific and technological knowledge and to apply its fruits. But it is desirable first to examine the ways in which the United States enters into and influences this picture. On the one side, there is within the United States itself the apparently irresistible force of invention and

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