Engineers in Post-Soviet Azerbaijan: From One Dependency to Another?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Leyla SAYFUTDINOVA, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
In this study, I explore the impact of post-Soviet integration into global economy on engineering profession in Azerbaijan. In the literature on professions former Soviet Union is usually treated as a homogenous nation state, and the asymmetries inherent in its organization are rarely considered. In this paper, I argue that in the case of professions in the peripheral republics of former Soviet Union we are dealing with a transition from one form of supra-national regulation to another. Based on in depth interviews and analysis of secondary literature, I show how the professional jurisdictions of engineers in post-Soviet Azerbaijan, which used to be drawn in the Union center in Moscow, are now being redrawn by global actors, particularly transnational corporations. During Soviet period, Azerbaijan was industrialized in accordance with Soviet modernization project and the ideology of technical progress. In addition to a network of industrial enterprises, Azerbaijan also possessed a number of research and design institutions, incorporated into the union-wide vertically integrated scientific-production associations. Although industrialization in Soviet Azerbaijan was directed from Moscow, where the scope of work, production targets and more generally the direction of development was determined, Azerbaijani engineers were engaged in all stages of technological process, and felt that they were a part of the larger Soviet engineering professional community. In the post-Soviet period, the Soviet vertically integrated organizations were fragmented, and many functions, particularly R&D became redundant in the context of Azerbaijani nation-state. In addition, Azerbaijan had chosen resource-based development and pursued a policy of acquisition of foreign technologies, mostly in turn-key form. As a result, the professional jurisdiction of engineers in Azerbaijan was re-drawn, with some tasks, such as manufacturing, research and design, being excluded.