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Niklas Jensen-Eriksen

Born July 22, 1974.

MA (general history) 1998, University of Helsinki; MPSc  (political science) 2008, University of Helsinki; PhD  (economic history) 2004, London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor of Business History, University of Helsinki 2013-
Researcher 1999-2002 and  2003-04 (University of Helsinki), postdoctoral researcher in 2004-08
Special researcher 2008-09 (Finnish National Archives)
Adjunct professor of European history, University of Helsinki 2009-
Postdoctoral researcher 2009-11 (University of Helsinki)
Academy of Finland researcher 2012-13

Publications, research projects and other scientific activity
Research areas: business and economic history of the Cold War period, business/government relations, forest industries, energy industries, cartels, economic regulation, business history of media

Awards and special achievements:
The TUHAT award of the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, for publications in 2014

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by: Niklas Jensen Eriksen and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by: John Calton

James Bond, Finland and the Cold War Technological Divide

In the mid-80s adventure film, A View to a Kill, the fictional KGB General Anatol Gogol presents ‘Comrade’ James Bond with the Order of Lenin after the British agent has saved California’s Silicon Valley. The film’s arch-villain, Max Zorin, had been plotting its annihilation. The British agent’s boss ‘M’ can’t help but wonder: ‘I’d thought the KBG would have celebrated if Silicon Valley had been destroyed.’ – ‘On the contrary, Admiral,’ the general replies, ‘where would Russian research be without it?’

The Bond screenwriters certainly had their finger on the pulse. The Soviet Union had become increasingly dependent on western technology, which it attempted to both buy and steal. Just before the premiere, a group of London journalists had published a dramatically titled work, Techno-Bandits: How the Soviets are Stealing America's High-Tech Future, which was full of lurid descriptions of the communists’ less than wholesome technology transfer.

And what an abundance to transfer: a great technological divide had opened up between liberal market economies and east European communist countries. For example, in 1987 there were several hundred thousand micro computers in use in the Soviet Union, but in the United States there were already 25 million. Finland was on the western edge of the divide and the Soviet Union tried to buy, steal and copy hi-tech from here too.

Professor Niklas Jensen-Eriksen researches the endeavours of Finnish businesses to serve as a fulcrum between earnest Soviet purchasers and the suspicious western alliance. There have been very few studies on this subject, although it was precisely this ability to keep open commercial channels both to the West and the East that determined Finland’s success as a hi-tech producer. Finland was dependent on western technology and benefitted from it when engineering equipment such as that used in the Nokia switches for the Soviet Union. The Americans tried to restrict and monitor this trade. Finland and its business interests were exercising a balancing act between the West and Moscow (and still are).


Professor Jensen-Eriksen’s current research projects:


SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) Finnish postage stamp from the year 1972. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.​​

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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