Title

Managers' experiences in the technology transfer process: Interpersonal/group behavior and organizational design

Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Business Administration

Advisor(s)

R. J. Chesser

Keywords

Management, Occupational psychology, Group dynamics, Managers, Studies, Technology transfer

Subject Categories

Technology and Innovation

Abstract

Technology Transfer (henceforth TT), or the process of transforming innovative technologies into new products by moving them through the organization's functional groups directly impacts a firm's competitiveness. The rush to satisfy customers expeditiously has pressured firms to accelerate the transfer of technology between R&D/design engineering (R&D/DE), production, and marketing functions. TT is an important organizational process because its end result, i.e., continual stream of new products ready for market, is essential for organizational growth and survival.

TT is an organizational and a human process concerned with the management of relationships between an organization's functional groups. Several elements of the process have been studied under the auspices of new product development, product innovation, and technology management. The organizational and human processes, although cited in practitioner journals as the major obstacles to successful transfer of technology, appear to have received insufficient attention in the academic literature.

This dissertation is an investigation of managers' experiences with the TT process. The objective of this dissertation is to investigate the interpersonal/group dynamics and organizational design issues in the TT process. Initially, a pilot study was conducted in order to identify and develop research questions for further exploration. The dissertation is based on the research questions shaped both by the pilot and the relevant literature. Exploratory data were gathered from in-depth interviews with forty managers from ten mid to large size high technology firms located in Northeastern U.S. The research questions guided the design of the interview protocol. At least three managers from each firm representing R&D/DE, production, and marketing who were involved in TT were interviewed. The interviews were conducted using pre-structured questions from the interview protocol as well as additional probing questions. All interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed.

The dissertation sheds light on (a) how firms attempt to make their TT processes more organic and less linear, (b) how managers increase the integration and collaboration between functional groups to accelerate TT, (c) what managers and organizations have learned from their involvement in the TT process. Implications of the findings are presented in terms of two models for future testing and suggestions for practitioners. First, the model of cross-functional collaboration identifies several factors that lead to high levels of cross-functional collaboration in the TT process. Second, the model of technology transfer identifies three contributing factors and proposes a bi-directional, simultaneous relationship with multiple indicators of TT effectiveness. Finally, implications for managers and organizations involved with TT are discussed.

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