Industrial Production in Russia: Research Methods and Development Tasks

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of Economics RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameISTORIYA
EditionModern History in Case of the Social Sciences and Humanities

The purpose of the article is to give a generalized assessment of the methods used to study the performance of Russian industrial production and to analyze the most aggregated indicators, in particular, the qualitative indicators of the process of technological modernization, through the introduction of digital technologies. Using the example of Russian manufacturing industry, it is shown how the overall assessment of the situation depends on the applied criterion of industrialization. It is noted that the task of technological upgrading of Russian manufacturing industry cannot be reduced solely to the introduction of digital technologies, without changing a wide range of production technologies.

Abstract (other)

Цель статьи − дать обобщённую оценку применяемых методов исследования функционирования промышленности России и анализ наиболее агрегированных показателей, в частности, качественных показателей процесса технологической модернизации посредством внедрения цифровых технологий. На примере российской промышленности показано, как в зависимости от применяемого критерия индустриализации зависит общая оценка ситуации. Отмечается, что задача технологического обновления российской промышленности не может быть сведена исключительно к вводу цифровых технологий, без изменения широкого набора производственных технологий.

Keywordsindustry, deindustrialization, factors of production, modeling, taxonomy of research methods, industrial policy
Keywords list (other)промышленность, деиндустриализация, факторы производства, моделирование, таксономия методов исследования, промышленная политика
AcknowledgmentThis article is a translation of: Сухарев О. Промышленность России: методы исследования и задачи развития // Общество и экономика № 2. С. 60—81. DOI: 10.31857/S020736760013641-4.
Publication date25.06.2021
Number of characters56830
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Industrial production has been and remains the core of material production, the main economic sector that creates products of industrial consumption — means of production, as well as a large range of consumer products [1—3]. In the world’s major economies, it has reduced its share in GDP but has massively increased its technological and intellectual potential due to the expansion of the role of R&D and the introduction of new technologies [5—6]. This allowed to ensure high dynamism of the production sector, to implement automation and robotization of production, to increase productivity, and at the same time to solve the problem of saving resources, moving along the two vectors that determine its strategic development: no human intervention and waste-free production. Mechanical engineering and metalworking1, as well as the sectors of instrument engineering, electronic machinery and special technology, microelectronics, which constitute the so-called 'high tech' activities, remain the central elements of the industry. These sectors concentrate the overwhelming number of manufacturing technologies applied to the processing and transformation of resources and materials. Progress in these technologies has resulted in the emergence of additive technologies that are replacing many types of mechanical processing with incorporated methods of materials exposure. This is the technological substitution and upgrade, which embodies the meaning and content of scientific and technological progress. Technologies solve the problem of saving resources, not only physical resources but also such an important and underestimated resource as time. Although we should note that the effectiveness of the introduction of new equipment is assessed by the payback period and the amount of return on the capital investments made at a certain time period. However, we are not talking here about time as an efficiency criterion, but rather about time as a used resource that has a high alternative value.

1. Mechanical engineering creates the means of production, and its technology upgrade is aimed at creating new types of equipment for other sectors, while the increase in the level of manufacturability affects the cost of equipment and industrial assets (of all sectors), the productivity of new equipment and technical devices. Mechanical engineering is represented by a number of sectors: agricultural, energy, transport, machine-tool and tool building, metallurgical, textile, and fixing hardware [3]. Analysis of the development of mechanical engineering in the sectoral dimension allows us to take into account the change in the composition of fixed assets in terms of upgrading technological functions, thereby assessing the technical level of labor instruments.
2 The organization of a new model of economic growth in Russia is problematic to solve without “forcing” to change the “existing social and economic system” [4]. It is necessary to change ownership relationships and income distribution. At the same time, this will require the reconstruction and effective functioning of the objects that create and increase the income itself, create conditions for its increase. Such objects include industrial production, which creates the means of production to create value and increase income. Development of industrial production, but not of a speculative economy of the rentier type, meets the requirements of social progress; therefore, it requires a forced transformation of industry [4].
3 The following main positions can be identified as strategic lines of such transformation:
  • general-purpose resources (raw materials, supplies, energy);
  • assets, production and equipment facilities, and technological basis of industrial production;
  • personnel and social infrastructure of industrial enterprises;
  • the state of agents of demand for industrial products of various purposes;
  • the state of the production infrastructure and the rules of operation of industrial enterprises (institutional conditions).

The current state of these elements of the industrial production is well-known2 (for more details, see [7—8]), however, we have not yet succeeded in overcoming the main problems of functioning of the Russian industry from a systematic perspective, despite the formal growth of industrial production and even the introduction of some advanced technologies, which can be literally counted on one hand (according to the Russian Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat)). In this regard, the task of modernization3 remains relevant.

2. In the author's works of 2010—2012, this state was assessed by the "2-D" effect [7], that is, deindustrialization and deskilling, which mutually reinforce each other.

3. Modernization means a significant (sometimes fundamental) change in the functioning of the object — industrial production, which is expressed in a change in the quantitative proportions and quality of functioning. Thus, technological modernization is a change in the technological basis, the structure of industrial production in favor of the use of advanced technologies, which increases the efficiency of production.

The key issue is the power supply of industrial production which is the main consumer of energy. By the way, the most power-consuming high-tech industry is microelectronics and semiconductor industry, that is, those industries that should create the basis for the introduction of digital technologies. Human society, having passed the pre-energy (primitive forms of energy) and energy (from coal to oil, gas, and nuclear energy — exhaustible fuels) stages of its development, is only approaching the post-energy stage (thermonuclear fusion4 as inexhaustible energy). At this stage, not only energy constraints will be eliminated, but also new opportunities and technologies for its use will arise — and not just in industrial production. These perspectives are not purely futurological, they are real and the outlines for the use of a new type of energy are already clearly visible to specialists. These transformations in the power supply will also become a factor for further technological changes, the trajectories of which have already been set by the existing technological structure of industrial production.

4. This is waste-free energy that does not require large fuel reserves, since deuterium and tritium are in excess and almost unlimited. In 2020, the installation of the first fusion reactor began as part of a large international project, which can be considered the beginning of the practical application of fusion energy.
6 It should be noted that the industry uses a wide range of different technologies (in addition to technologies for working with information and data, i. e. digital technologies), including the so-called technologies of wide application, reproducing the mode of increasing returns. It is specifically the IT sectors that are characterized by increasing returns, but the standard set of Russian industry sectors does not show a similar effect. Thus, there is a kind of dichotomy of industrial development, when some sectors show increasing returns, while others show constant or decreasing returns. Such a dichotomy dominates in the main industries as well. First of all, IT sectors with increasing returns do not need a large number of assets or equipment. Secondly, the classical industrial sectors, on the contrary, need assets and their upgrade to a significant degree, but the relatively low value of profitability and return on capital of these sectors actually deprives them of the necessary dynamics of upgrading the means of production.

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