WASHINGTON—American companies can learn a great deal from the Japanese approach to research planning and the contribution it makes to productivity, a group of U.S. research directors have concluded after a visit there last fall.

But the two countries stand to gain even more from a full and continuous exchange of information, suggest a second group of American and Japanese officials that is in the midst of an extended discussion on issues of scientific collaboration.

"In all of Japanese industry there was unquestionably the feeling that technology is the root that supports the company tree," explained Thomas J. Savereide, director of 3M's Central Research Labs in St. Paul, Minn. who led 25 research directors on a tour of several Japanese companies last fall in an effort to learn how that country manages to translate research results into successful products. "The roots were well watered and taken care of."

The trip...

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