Headquarters' Involvement in Technology Transfers: - A Case Study of Jotun and Hydro
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Jotun and Hydro are pioneers in the markets where they operate. Jotun is a trusted provider of paints and coatings worldwide, and Hydro is a significant player in the global aluminum industry. An important contribution to their competitive advantage is the high technical competence level in the organizations and the quality of the products they provide. Research and development efforts are critical to ensure that their competitive position is maintained. The size and global presence of both companies constitutes a substantial potential for large scale exploitation of new and better solutions. Being able to exploit new technologies and processes involves transferring technology developed at one site to other sites in the multinational company (MNC). Technology transfer is complex and there is a variety of factors affecting the outcome. Technology transfer pilot projects denote the first transfer of a new technology. Through the cases studied in this diploma we have found that the burden on those involved in such transfers can be substantial. The positive impact new technologies can have on the entire MNC, indicates that the headquarters (HQ) has high interest in technology transfers being successful. The question is how the HQ can contribute to and improve technology transfers. There is a substantial body of research on technology transfer and on HQ s role in MNCs. However, HQ s role in technology transfers is only to a limited degree covered. This study investigates what drives the HQs involvement in technology transfer pilot projects. Additionally, we have investigated how the HQ can contribute to successful results of technology transfers both in the short and long term. Literature on technology transfer and two streams of theory, the governance perspective and evolutionary perspective, are used as a background for this multiple-case study. Five groups of determinants affecting the HQs involvement in technology transfer pilot projects are identified: 1.Transmitter Determinants constitute factors describing the transmitter in a transfer. The motivation, competence of the transmitter, transfer experience and relational capabilities is determining the need for the HQ s involvement. 2.Receiver Determinants are similarly describing the receiver s ability to receive a technology, and hence the need for support from the HQ. Again the motivation, competence, transfer experience and relational capabilities are decisive. 3.Interaction Related Determinants describes the potential distances existing between the transmitter and receiver. Distance in geography, competence, language and culture all affect the need for HQ s involvement. 4.Technology Determinants constitute factors describing the technology being transferred. The literature highlights importance, complexity, age of technology and location specificity as important technology determinants affecting HQ s involvement. 5.Contextual Determinants constitute the most fundamental parts of the competitive ecosystem MNCs operate in, and can be decisive for the role the HQ holds. Three distinct contextual determinants are identified; competition, market dynamics and governmental institutions. The five groups of determinants cover all aspects of a technology transfer. We suggest that the determinants can be used as a framework to decide which projects to prioritize. The pilot projects with the highest potential for success, the greatest need for assistance, and strongest link to the overall business strategy should be prioritized. Additionally, analyzing the determinants can indicate what role central resources should have in a technology transfer. The applicability of the framework is demonstrated through the case studies of Jotun and Hydro. Separating the transfers into smaller parts enables us to analyze the complex transfer in manageable portions. In both cases investigated we conclude, using the framework, that the central resources have been insufficiently involved. The main drivers for HQ s involvement in both cases are the importance and complexity of the technology in addition to the limited capacity at the transmitter and receiver. The challenges and friction experienced by those involved in both cases could have been mitigated by the HQs taking a more active role. We have proposed concrete examples of how the HQ can improve the technology transfer in both cases. Important actions include; support the planning and define the scope of the project, provide resources to reduce strain on involved parties and ensure solid evaluation of the project to prepare for further dissemination. Investigating two cases has enabled us to do a thorough analysis of several aspects connected to such projects, but the low number of cases makes generalization difficult. Future research is therefore encouraged to conduct similar research where survey data and cases from several companies are evaluated, this way testing the robustness and generalizability of the conclusions.