The informal contact networks

As in all other relationships, it was informal social contact that played a key role in the repeated cooperation projects between Ericsson and Televerket, the Swedish PTT. Important platforms for networking between engineers were established during studies at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm or Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and, until the 1970s, through the club activities of the Technologists Society in Stockholm. This was where the engineers got to know one another through more informal socializing in conjunction with the Society's debates, for which the leading powers of industry gathered. The debate was followed by dinner and a less formal session, which offered young and experienced engineers the opportunity for contact in a more relaxed and less hierarchical environment. When an older engineer discarded titles in contact with a younger engineer on such occasions, it was regarded as "recognition and a privilege" of greater importance for daily work than we can imagine today.

There are many engineers, technicians and managers who have worked for both Televerket and Ericsson through the years. There are countless engineers who have been active in both organizations at various times. David Lienzén, who worked until 1913 in workshops of Televerket, can be named as an example of this. Following a short period of employment at Ericsson, he returned to Televerket, only to be employed again by Ericsson in 1917 to participate in the development of the new telephone station technology.

Mobility between the two parties also existed among management. Helge Ericson is proof of this. Following his graduation from the Royal Institute of Technology in 1912, he started at Televerket, which he left in 1928 for Ericsson. Two years later, he returned to the public operator as engineering director and rose to the post of director general in 1939. However, in 1942, he again resigned to return to Ericsson as its president. In 1953, after ten years as president, he concluded his professional career as the company chairman.

Another three prominent examples are: Arvid Lindman, prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, who was director general of Televerket from 1904-1907 and then chairman of Ericsson from 1916-1925; Klas Weman, head of Ericsson's US company and then President of Televerket; and Håkan Sterky, design manager at Ericsson and director general of Televerket. Since Televerket became Telia (Swedish Telecom) in 1982 two of its presidents, Lars Berg and Jan-Åke Kark, have both been recruited from Ericsson.

Author: Mats Fridlund & Claes-Fredrik Helgesson

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