[OPE-L:2239] Socialism, motor cycles and innovation

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 14:57:24 EST

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Steve writes [OPE 2165]:

[>] Firms respond by attempting to conserve resources, which
in addition to hoarding behaviour, encourages non-innovation: the easiest
way to produce the allocated number of motor-cycles is to produce more of
last year's model, as any purchaser of a "Cossack" (otherwise known as a
1942 BMW) would know.

If only... The Russians copied the general layout, but unfortunately not the
build quality. Incidentally, since I notice that in OPE 2181 the BMWs have
regressed to 1936 models, I'd point out that 1942-type BMWs (i.e. military
models) were phased out in favour of Kubelwagen, the latter being cheaper to
make, easier to maintain, and more effective; the Allies likewise gave up
bikes in favour of Jeeps.

More generally, this industry is not the most fortunate example to pick to
make this point; while the Russian bike industry had a pretty woeful record,
this emphatically wasn't true of that in the DDR.

There the MZ factory was a pioneer of modern two-stroke technology and swept
the board in a variety of competitive disciplines -- road racing,
moto-cross, etc. -- until their star road-race rider defected to the West
(to Suziki, in fact, who promptly copied -- NOT developed -- it).

Speaking as a satisfied customer, their road bikes were also pretty
effective in their intended role (and were also developed down the years,
although not at the frenetic -- and wasteful? -- pace of western factories).
If anything, the main criticism one might make (from a "western"
perspective) was that they were over-engineered, with needlessly
highly-specified materials, finishes, etc. At any rate, they seem impervious
to rust, etc.


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