Unless top managers support the productive use of computers and other information technology with training and new corporate strategies, their companies may not survive the 1990s, an MIT study says.

The findings were drawn from a five-year research program conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and sponsored by Arthur Young and 11 other companies, including American Express Co. and Eastman Kodak Co.Arthur Young's 40-page report on the MIT study said executives should adopt a more liberal attitude toward technology.

"Corporate executives may be blindsided unless they understand its strategic impact, actively support it and contribute creatively to the use of information technology in their firms," the Arthur Young report concluded.

William Gladstone, chairman of the management consulting firm, said U.S. executives should also be more alert about new technological developments.

"In recent years, we have been accused as a nation as being slower than our foreign competitors to anticipate new technologies and the vast markets they generate here at home," he said.

Gladstone said managers could no longer afford be passive.

"The old process whereby the technology professional told management what will or can be done is reversing," he said. "Now, management must set the direction."

Gladstone predicted corporate survival will also hinge on the way human resources managers introduce new technology to employees.

"All of this means that people need to change the way they work," he said.

John Sifonis, national director of strategic management consulting services for Arthur Young, said corporate success during the coming decade requires the strong support of top executives.

"If you have a positive attitude, that trickles down" to lower levels of an organization, and technology will pay off, Sifonis said.

He said using sophisticated equipment simply to increase the volume of work produced by one individual will not solve underlying problems within a company and just "increases the velocity of chaos."

"If you don't change the organization's climate or culture, you're dead," Sifonis said, describing an unused computer as a "$5,000 paperweight."