Knowledge and Technology transfer have been a great issue of concern for researchers, companies and policy makers for some time now. These areas of research contribute greatly to economic development, and for these reasons developing countries are hungry for knowledge and technology transfer.
Over the years countries of the world have invested millions of Dollars to achieving knowledge transfer, especially from R&D project and University to companies. Developing countries are more involve in technology transfer and most times the adoption of technology.
The transfer of technology has been very difficult because of tacit knowledge. The purpose of QIAO LAB attempt to unlock the barriers that tacit knowledge possess and to look at the definitional appraisal of knowledge and technology transfer, benefit and challenges of knowledge transfer and technology, and the characteristics and nature of technology transfer in developing countries.
When ever the topic of knowledge and technology transfer are being discussed, most people believe is simply the transfer/movement of knowledge and technology from one country to another. But it takes more than the transfer of these knowledge and technology from one country to another. Many factors have to be in place for the transfer to be implemented. The gains of knowledge and technology transfer to the world economic are so enormous. For these reasons government and companies invest greatly on these projects.
This reduces poverty; reduce mass migration of people, and increases world economy wealth.
Knowledge and technology transfer have been a great concern for company, government and institutions. The flow of knowledge from research institutions to company‟s have been a great concern to the developed economy of the world. This flow of technical knowledge from research institution to company‟s could be called technical innovation/knowledge diffusion.
Knowledge and technology transfer could be divided into two based on geographical location
– Internal knowledge and technology transfer
- External knowledge and technology transfer.
These bases of transfer as to be considered when looking at knowledge and technology transfer to and within a country or company. Technology transfer could be classified into two: Vertical technology transfer
– the flow of knowledge from research institution to companies and Horizontal technology transfer
– the flow of knowledge among companies.
Knowledge transfers are divided into two components explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge transfer.
Knowledge transfer is considered more haphazard and it is in this area that knowledge transfer can falter and technology transfer can be impeded
Knowledge transfer is a key tool of technology transfer, technology cannot be transfer if there are no knowledge of what to be transferred.
Therefore, knowledge transfer and technology transfer most work together at the same rate of development to achieve transfer. There most be knowledge for technology to be transfer.
Knowledge transfer is about connection not collection. The collection of knowledge will be considered when talking about adoption of knowledge. This process does not allow the continuous flow of knowledge from transferor to transferee. For technology transfer to be implemented, there most be continual flow of knowledge transfer between involved parties. In this current competitive environment, knowledge is recognized as a fundamental asset for organization.
Therefore, knowledge transfer is very important when considering economic strength of a country or company. Knowledge transfer can be defined as the process through which an organization unit is affected by the experience of another.
Knowledge transfer means the two-way transfer of ideas, research results, expertise or skills between one party and another that enables the creation of new knowledge and its use in:
- The development of innovative new products, processes and/or services.
- The development and implementation of public policy
Technology transfer as being a great issue to most companies and countries. Technology transfer is usually a basis for technical innovation and often is it after-effects in a form of innovation diffusion. Technology transfer can be defined as inflow of technical knowledge to the market where it is sold and bought.
Technology transfer flow from one place to another where it could be bought or sold (product). In another definition Technology transfer in the work regulation of the United Nation is defined as the transfer of systematic knowledge for the manufacture of a product or provision of services.
In the past technology transfer was the simple movement of knowledge of product and services from one company to another.
Technology transfers process can exists in the following main forms;
Sales/purchase of result of the R & D work
Turnover of licenses, patents. Utility models, know-how
Sales/purchase of production techniques, means of automation etc
Technical staff training
Exchange of technological information.
To simplify technology transfer into:
1. Embodied technology transfer (ie the flow of knowledge embodied in new products, materials, tools, machines and similar equipment),
2. Disembodied technology transfer ( ie other forms of flow of technical knowledge).
The challenges of technology and knowledge transfer have over the years been a great concern to researchers. Because of the closeness between these two elements, their challenges are almost similar.
Six dimensions "Pattern of Technology Transfer"
Six dimensional ways for "Knowledge transfer"
Theses shows that the challenges and benefits of technology and knowledge transfer are similar and that one cannot do without the other.
One of the benefits of technology transfer is globalization of industries. Technology transfer brings the world together as one large market place. When technology transfer are properly transfer around the world from developed nation to less developed nation, economic vibrancy will be seen and nation will draw closer to one another making the world look like a large global market place.
Internationalization of domestic market is also a benefit to technology transfer. Product produced by domestic market could compete with large international industry if proper technology is transfer to the domestic market. This will increase production and also economic growth.
Some of the barriers of technology transfer to developing countries are also great. These includes:
- lost of intellectual property,
- exploitation of indigenous employees,
- lack of infrastructure,
- employees attitudes,
- government policy/legal protection,
- geographical location,
- environment, and others.
Below is the circular flow of knowledge and technology transfer from the Transferor to the Transferee and back to the Transferor.
The flow of Technology and Knowledge transfer is in a circular nature.
Resources/Funds have been the driving force to Technology and Knowledge transfer especially in the developing countries.
With the availability of funds, the transfer of Technology and Knowledge becomes a two way thing, the transferor transfers Knowledge/Technology to the Transferee based on the Resources/Funding provided by the Transferee.
With the availabilities of fund, the Transferor are willing to research and transfer technology and knowledge to the transferee, this could only be achieved if there is a continual communication between the two.
For technology to be transferred, policy maker/government has to provide implemental policy that will enable joint ventures, FDI, co-production, company acquisition and transfer of ownership by multinational companies. If a country/company is thinking about adopting or borrowing technology, they have to provide good policy for the buying and selling of technology, licensing and franchising. If technology has to be transferred the level of communication must be high, the altitude of both the transferor and transferee has to be positive. The transferee must be willing to learn new ideas and the transferor must also be willing to teach or give out the idea that they have. Technology transfer is achievable if it is genuine, practicable, acceptable, high knowledge base of the transferee and infrastructure availability.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
FDI have been the most important channel used for its direct impact on economy development and low cost of transfer.
But the choice of choosing what method to channel technology depends on the countries market size, market growth, the threat of imitation, and the IPR. For developing countries to acquire technology through foreign direct investment there should be abundance of skilled and semi-skilled workers and also a strong IPR protection to attract investors, these will increase the level of tacit knowledge (know-how) absorption.
The multinational cooperation (MNC) is media for the transfer of knowledge and technology. Expatriates‟ are used for the transfer of knowledge and technology by the MNC. Expatriates‟ with long-term assignment remain critical for skill transfer, management control and management developments while expatriate with temporary assignment are used mainly for skill transfer.
Joint Venture typically involves less risk than strategic alliances, acquisitions or financing subsidiaries, they tend to be more common, as skills, attributes and resources are sought through mutual business objectives. With joint ventures companies can pursue common business-related purposes, use harmonising technology or research techniques, increase capital and bargaining power, extend the risk of scale; and surmount entry barriers gaining market share and therefore power
The expansion of joint venture in any economy leads to Multinational Corporation; therefore encourage technology and knowledge transfer. The joint venture is superior means to enhance a firm‟s positioning through capability learning and knowledge transfer.
A License is a contract which authorizes the use or exploitation of the subject matter of the licence for a specified purpose and period of time with all other right maintained by the owner of the technology.
Companies wishing to expand into the international arena are finding that licensing or transferring their technology provides a low risk and highly profitable alternative to direct export, establishing a foreign branch, subsidiary or joint venture.
But these arguments can only benefit the transferor and not the transferee at the long run.
The reason for technology transfer is to benefit both parties and at the long run, the transferee should be independent of the technology gained. The motivation for licensing of technology and product could be for the penetration of the international market.
Companies are willing to license their technology to countries where they do not have penetration through export or direct investment and also selling of their product. Countries willing to embank on technology transfer through licensing must be sure of the credibility of the licensors and their willingness to transfer technology.
Unlocking Tacit Knowledge
Tacit knowledge is the brain behind knowledge and technology transfer and key element that delivers the most sustainable advantages, when looking at knowledge transfer between parties. But tacit knowledge is blocked between transferor and transferee in terms of knowledge transfer.
From the figure above, it shows that knowledge could be transfer except tacit knowledge. This knowledge could seen as long life experience of the transferor. Experience could be transfer when all parameters are put in place for transferor to transfer knowledge to transferee. Experience could only be achieved with willingness of the transferee to learn on site (practical work) and also for the transferor to be willing to teach what is known.
Tacit knowledge is unlocked when experience on the job is totally transferred to the transferee. This could only be done through the following ways:
Direct key transfer; Experience is transferable on the job training. This method of transfer is very effective. The trainer/transferor will train the trainees/transferees on the job; by teaching them what is knows at the same time providing practical work for them while he shows to make corrections. Trainee are given project tasking for them to practice what they have leant.
Tea-break; Tea-break is an informal way of transferring experience. This method provides a forum were transferors and transferee can discus over tea or at break period in a common room. This method develops social relationship between transferor and transferee thereby building trust. As we know trust is a major component of knowledge transfer.
Discussion forum; this is a formal way of transferring knowledge. Formal discussion forum should be created were both transferees and transferor discus relevant issues relating to the jobs and their problems at the job. This type of forum provides room were question will be asked directly to the transferor. This could also the termed as questions and answers forum.
Intellectual Property; we all know that strong IPR attract investment. With strong IPR, the trust of investment is increased which attracts know-how. With this binding trust between transferor and transferee and with propel agreement and negotiation, the culture of know-how will be transformed to show-how.
Qiao LAB is focused to help Knowledge transfer using any possible way and method, to permit to Transferor and Transferee to create a win - win cooperation for a mutual concrete future synergy.