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...Technology Transfer: Evolutions of definitions, concepts and theory

Technology: Evolution of the Definitions of the Concept

Technology is a concept which has resulted in many dynamic changes, bringing about the existence of similarly dynamic and ever changing ways of defining the concept. Obtaining a comprehensive definition of the concept will result in simplifying the understanding of technology. The term 'technology' has been identified as an essentially abstract concept that is extremely challenging to interpret, observe and evaluate (Blomstrom and Kokko, 1998). Past literatures have referred to technology transfer as the transmission of know-how in a way that it suits local conditions as well as across countries (Chung, 2001)

Sahal (1981) states that technology should be viewed as a 'configuration' and further clarifies that the technology or the object transferred depends on a set of processes and products.

In direct contrast to the above definition, more modern studies on technology transfer have linked technology with knowledge with more consideration given to the process of research and development to acquire said knowledge (Dunning, 1994). This definition was further expanded upon by Burgelman et al. (1996) who defines technology as consisting of theoretical and applied knowledge, skills, and artefacts that can be utilized to develop products and services as well as the systems by which the products and services are produced and delivered. Kumar et al. 1999, in their study discovered that technology mainly consisted of two primary components: Physical component ' consisting of products, tools, equipment, blueprints, techniques, processes etc. and Informational component ' consisting of know-how in management, marketing, production, quality control, skilled labour and other important functional areas.

This evolution of the definition of technology, from being defined as a physical object to an informational concept has given rise to the identification of the concept of technology as an intangible asset. Rodasevic, (1999) states that technology is rooted in the firm's daily routines and is not easy to transfer due to the gradual learning process and higher cost associated with transferring tacit knowledge of intangible assets. Taking the above definition into consideration, Nonaka, 1994 defined technology as the specific secrets or knowledge held by an organization or individual. This definition is further emphasized upon by the following definition by Bozeman, 2000 whose study stated that the concept of technology is associated with the knowledge or information of its use, application and the process in developing the product and that it does not only relate to the technology that is represented via the product.

Lin, (2003) stated that technology as an intangible asset of a firm cannot be transferred from one party to another easily due to the valuable technological knowledge which requires rigorous  technological learning processes, to integrate as well as internalize the transferred technology. A more comprehensive and extensive statement was provided by Lin, (2003) who stated that technology can also be identified in people, materials, cognitive and physical processes, facilities, machines, tools etc.

Technology Transfer: Evolution of the Definitions of the Concept

Technology transfer too is a concept with a diverse set of definitions, based on the nature of the situation under study and the area of study of the researcher. In simple terms it is a situation where technology is transferred by the technology provider to the technology requestor. Technology transfer is acknowledged by Agmon and von Glinow, 1981 as a complex process that needs a considerable amount of time to evolve. Reisman, (2005) stated that there are technology has approximately 182 independent transfer characteristics, a majority of which are related to the parties that are directly involved in the transfer, the transaction characteristics, motivations, discipline, and perceived role of technology transfer etc., thus giving us an idea of the complex nature of the process of transferring technology.

Some of the earliest studies conducted on the subject define technology transfer as the sharing of know-how (knowledge) which enabled the receiving organization or individual also known as the transferee, to manufacture a particular product or provide a specific service. (Baranson, 1970). Gibson and Smilor, (1991) views technology transfer as a chaotic process due to its involvement with diverse parties with varying contradicting views on the value and use of said technology.

Gibson and Rogers, (1994) specified technology transfer as applying of information (in the form of an innovation) into use.

Rogers et al. (2001) described technology transfer by adding a communication aspect to the transfer process. Their study states that technology transfer consists of a difficult type of communication process, covering the stages from research and development to the sale of the output or commercialization in other words, but with specific emphasis on the interface between R&D and commercialisation.

Technology transfer refers to planned relationships between two or more parties, groups or organizations who have specific goals and objectives relating to the transfer, to exchange technological knowledge and/or products. (Autio and Laamanen, 1995). This definition provides us with a view that transfers do not happen by chance, instead it depends on carefully planned strategies and decisions taken with the consent of a number of parties.

Levin (1993), defines technology transfer as a socio-technical process which indicates the transferring of skills such as cultural which complements the movement of machinery, equipment and tools. A social facet is provided for technology transfer which states that technological development is viewed as a social process, where the resulting technology shouldn't be considered as separate from the parties who are invested in determining it. (Levin, 1997). This means that merely obtaining the technology is not adequate. There should also be social interactions between the transferor, transferee and other relevant third parties for the transfer to be implemented successfully, in order to obtain the maximum benefits commercially and otherwise. Farhang, (1997) suggests that the transfer of technologies in events of manufacturing processes requires the transfer of know-how and expert knowledge of engineering and technical personnel and not only the exchange of technological information in the form of process sheets, blueprints, products, and materials specification etc. This leads to the definition by McDougall, (2005) who stated that technology transfer was the process through which the technologies that were developed in universities are converted into new innovation products which were then marketed. This gives us a commercial perspective on technology where the monetary aspect of the concept is considered.

Based on the above definitions for the concepts technology and technology transfer we can identify that both concepts are defined with a wide scope by all researchers concerned about the area of study. This means that the potential areas for future studies knows no bounds and that an enormous amount of knowledge on the subject could still be untouched and undiscovered.


Technology Transfer Process

Just as with the complexity of defining the concept of technology transfer, the process of conducting a technology transfer is complex in a similar manner. There are many methods theorized by authors covering a diverse amount of perspectives.

Wang et al., 2003 identified that every organization has its own unique and complex goals, objectives and culture, which means that a single transfer process cannot be applied to all organizations. Their study introduced a transfer method consisting of six stages as shown in Figure 1 below.


   Figure 1: Technology Transfer Activities (Source: Wang et al., 2003)

This six step process focuses on the ultimate goal of technology transfer which is 'commercialization'. Wang et al., 2003 states that the goal of commercialization involves taking intellectual property that is derived from federally funded research and development at universities or federal laboratories, creating new and innovative products, and then commercializing them. This model however has many limitations. The relationship and social aspect of technology transfer is not considered in the model presented which makes the model linear. Also the model only focuses on the transfer of technology in the form of products and not knowledge, thereby ignoring the tacit nature of technology transfer which is an all important aspect of the model.

Rogers, (2003) provided five main steps that should be followed when deciding to adopt a technology, in a model more comprehensive than the model introduced by Wang et al., 2003

'' Knowledge phase: This is where the responsible parties for the transfer focus on identifying the problems faced currently in their organizational processes and commence searching for solutions for these issues, in the form of technology transfer. In other words, this is the identification of the technology gap and the identification of the options to fill this gap.

'' Persuasion phase: Here the key stakeholders of the organization will persuade the users and other parties involved to engage with the technology adopted with the intention of familiarizing themselves with it, which is expected to assist the decision makers in identifying the viability and suitability of the technology for the satisfaction of their needs.

'' Decision phase: The decision to adopt or reject the technology is taken during this phase after considering the findings of the persuasion phase.

'' Implementation phase: If a positive decision is taken in the decision phase, the technology transferred will be implemented into the process of the organization.

'' Confirmation phase: A post implementation review will be conducted in this stage, where the performance of the technology is assessed and the success or failure of the transfer is acknowledged.

Technology Transfer Models

Harmon et al., (1997), identified that there were two main models of technology transfer. One type of model assumed that the process should be commenced after intensive pre planning and that the main focus should be on buying and/or selling between universities and/or private companies. Here no social aspect or relationship aspect is considered as the creators of the technology and the users do not work together until the negotiation process. One model demonstrating this concept of a linear transfer process is the model developed by Goldhor and Lund, (1983), whose study identified the process as a straight lined bridge crossing which is aided by a transfer agent. The main focus here was the technical competence of the parties concerned. Another model introduced by Large and Barclay, (1992) viewed the transfer process as a systematic process which was initiated from research and development conducted using mainly public funding, to the marketing of the innovated technology to the private sector.

The second type of model according to Harmon et al., (1997), focuses on the relationship aspect of the process. This group of studies is primarily made up of non-linear models that emphasize multi-faceted associations, interdependency between 'hard' technology and 'softer' aspects of technology such as people management and information flows which involve individuals, organizations, governments etc. (Mitra and Formica, 1997). Lambricht and Teich, (1976), commented on the fact that research is moving further away from investigating the technology transfer process with focus on the stages of the research chain. Instead studies are focusing more and more on interrelationships among private organizations or parties and public research centers as well as on how these agreements relate to the development and transfer of technology.

More modern models propose a hybrid combination of the two original models. The 'Brownian model', viewed technology transfer to be successful if the process of handling a portfolio of relating facilitators and barriers was conducted in such a way so that it resulted in the introductions of new and innovative product development, commercialization, transfer and seamless user adoption. (Padmanabhan and Souder, 1994). The study conducted by Harmon et al., (1997) discovered that all the past literature as well as empirical evidence analyzed that a majority of technology was transferred due to prior relationships between the transferor and the transferee and not via the form of an official searching process, which highlights the importance of the social aspect of the concept. One such model is model introduced by Callon et al., (1992) which emphasises on the importance of the interactions that take place between the parties involved in the transfer process by considering the impact of the transfer on the market as well as the environment.

Stock and Tatikonda, (2000) developed a model that focuses on technology transfer on a project basis. The model developed, first identifies the nature of the technology to be transferred, then focuses on the communications across the organization and finally on the relationships between the technology and the organization at each and every phase of the project.  

Goldfarb and Henrekson, (2003) considered two models for the commercialization of the transfers, namely bottom-up and top-down. The former focuses on creating incentives for universities to commercialize research results, while the latter focuses on directly creating technologies that facilitate commercialization.


Evolution of Technology Transfer Dimensions

Spann, 1995 introduced a model which provided the study area with three dimensions of technology transfer.

Temporal Dimension Short Term Long term

Transfer Strategy Push Strategy Pull Strategy

Transfer Models Political Model

Out-the-Door Model

Opportunity Cost Model Market Impact Model

Economic Impact Model

Table 1: Dimensions of Technology Transfer (Source: Spann, 1995)

'' Temporal Dimension: This dimension attempts to assess the time taken for the successful completion of a technology transfer. The author has discovered that technology transfer is a multi-stage process and that the transfer is usually a long term process. The study has separated the times taken for a typical transfer process as immediate (one year), intermediate (two ' four years) and long term (greater than or equal to five years). Further the study stated that the time dimension of the transfer is usually technology specific, which means that it varies based on the technology transferred. It has been said that transfers in terms of information can usually be instantly concluded while other transfers that are not purely informational could take a number of years to show results.

'' Transfer Strategy: Two main strategies were identified by Spann, (1995) namely technology pull and technology push. Push strategies are stated to be 'means-motivated' whereas pull strategies are said to arise from market demand and are 'needs-motivated'. With the changes in the modern technological environment pull strategies have become more prevalent compared to push strategies which were famous at first.

'' Transfer Models: The effectiveness of the models used will depend on the type of strategy pursued by the organization. Spann, (1995) states that the Out-the-Door, Political and Opportunity Cost Models each drive technology push strategies. Technology push strategies focus on making technologies available for transfer (an out-the-door mentality) to justify expenditures of federal dollars on research and development (a political motivation) while competing with other programs for resources (opportunity cost model). Technology pull strategies are said to be driven by market-impact and economic-impact models where the measures are based on perceived needs of the economy, industries or firms.

Contingent Effectiveness Model of Technology Transfer

This model was introduced by Bozeman, (2000) with the intention of assessing the effectiveness of technology transfer. The proposed model consisted of five dimensions as identified below.

Transfer Agent: it was identified that most of the literature on university research commercialization activities focused on the culture prevailing in the university or the research organization engaged in the technology transfer. Rahm et al., (1988) identified that the parties involved in research were not likely to engage in technology transfer when compared to those engaged solely on technology development. The study conducted by Jones-Evans et al., (1999) concluded that universities tend to follow a model which is initiated from supply to demand side whilst many organizations, in contrast will function according to a model which initiates from demand to supply side. Colwell, (2002) discovered that a successful technology transfer was achieved when the researcher was wholeheartedly engaged in all phases of the development and marketing process and not purely in situations where the researcher was not included in the process of finally transferring the research outcomes.

Transfer Media: this can be defined as any form of communication between two or more parties where technology is transferred during the course of communication (Autio and Laamanen, 1995). Rogers et al., (2001) provided five types of technology transfer media:

'' Spin-off: a spin-off is where a wholly new and separate company is formed by former employees of an origination from which core technology was transferred to the new company. (Rogers and Steffensen, 1999)

'' Licensing: this is the legal permission to make, use and sell a particular technology. The monetary advantages that can be gained via licensing is immeasurable and should be looked at by universities and other research and development authorities.

'' Publications: in journal articles, magazines and other forms of scholarly literature are identified as publications. Even when knowledge is fully classified in publications or, total exploitation will require the transfer of a component of tacit knowledge that is only possessed by the creator of such knowledge (Dasgupta and David, 1994).

'' Meetings: face to face interaction between the transferor and the transferee, where knowledge is exchanged.  

'' Co-operative Research and Development agreements: this is the transfer of technologies from government research and development laboratories to private companies who join hands and work together in research and development with the government laboratories (Rogers et al., 1998).

Transfer Object: This dimension emphasizes the type of technology that is transferred. One of the most common distinctions in the literature is between knowledge transfer and technology transfer (Gilbert and Cordeyhayes, 1996). Their study mapped the increasing tendency for the need to transfer tacit knowledge compared to other forms of technology. They further state that the transfer of tacit knowledge has a higher impact on the effectiveness of mainly manufacturing technology transfers. Another way that transfer objects can be classified is in terms of the sector that it will be utilized in. For instance the government sector vs. private sector. Foray, (1995) identified a strong relationship between the sectors that technology is used in, process vs. product technology and types of learning needed for the transference of technology.

The demand environment: technology typically has two types of demand; pull demand and push demand. However non-market forces too could shape demand. It has been observed according to Piper and Naghshpour, (1996) that a majority of government funded research and development is done with an assumption of market pull approach taking an 'if we build, they will come' attitude. Huberman, (1994) identified factors which influence the sharing of knowledge which can be classified as the user context and predictors of local use. User context consists of the worth of the transferred piece of knowledge or technology in the mind of the user and its link to the need of the user, the quality of relationships with research staff etc. The predictors of local use are the users' understanding of the findings, the compatibility with organizational needs and priorities of the resources transferred.

Characteristics of the transfer recipient: the first concern which is related to the characteristics of the transfer recipient is the type of organization that the technology will be transferred to. In a broad sense we can categorize the type of organization as a government organization, a non-profit organization or a business organization. The willingness to exploit the opportunities arising from the transfer is another characteristic of the transfer recipient or the transferee that has been considered by Molas-Gallart et al., (1999) who discovered that the conclusions or findings of research may not be taken up sometimes, not because of any shortcomings in the research results but because the potential users are unwilling to exploit the opportunities presented to them as a result of the research findings. Lin, (1997) proposed that companies that receive technology during the technology transfer process should have at least a basic level of technology capability. To support this statement the study developed a technology capability model, which consists of six dimensions.

'' Experience capability: consists of the percentage of technology staff to total staff, experience with similar technology implementation and use etc.

'' Budget capability: considers the research and development budgets, emphasis placed by the top as well as middle management on the transfer etc.

'' Equipment capability: considers the level of depreciation of the technology in use at present, ability to estimate performance of technology, degree of automation and other new technology introduced etc.

'' Output capability: considers the ratio of new product introductions, past experience in implementing technology and problem solving etc.

'' Information capability: focuses on the degree of updating information, ease of accessing, retrieving and changing existing information etc.

'' Management capability: focuses on the experience of the transfer project manager, quality of management and operational capability of the recipient

Dimension Focus Examples

Transfer agent

The institution or organization seeking to transfer the technology

Government agency, university, private firm, characteristics of the setting, its culture, organization, personnel.

Transfer medium

The vehicle, formal or informal by  which the technology is transferred License, copyright, CRADA, person-to-person, formal literature

Transfer object The content and form of what is transferred, the transfer entity.

Scientific knowledge, technological device process, know-how, and specific characteristics of each

Transfer recipient The organization or institution receiving the transfer object. Firm, agency, organization, consumer, informal group, institution and associated characteristics

Demand  environment Factors _market and non-market. pertaining to the need for the transferred Price for technology, substitutability, relation to technologies now used, object. subsidy, market shelters

Table 2: Technology Dimensions (Source: Bozeman, 2000)


Seminal works and their findings

Technology Transfer by Multinational Firms: The Resource Cost of Transferring Technological Know-How (Teece, 1977)

This study cited in over 2500 researches focuses on the resource costs incurred in international technology transfer. The main finding of the study can be summarized as follows: technology should not be regarded as something that can be transferred at zero social cost. The study also identifies that the transfer costs will change depending on the understanding of the innovation by the relevant parties as well as based on the type of transfer done. The study further analysed the determinants of transfer costs and identified that lower costs will be positively affected by the increase in skills and not be greatly affected by the acquiring of fixed assets or capital used in the transfer process. Teece, (1977) identified that the transfer of technology is most feasible in instances where production runs are long and provide for multiple runs, since the transfer costs will be reduced continuously after the first run causing economies of scale of sorts. This led to the conclusion that technology transfer is a decreasing cost activity. Manufacturing experience, size, research and development were identified as determinants of transfer costs and it was concluded that firms with experience in these dimensions were excellent examples for transferring technology at minimum cost.

Contingent Effectiveness Model (Bozeman, 2000)

The Contingent Effectiveness model has been used in practice or as a conceptual framework in a wide variety of articles, including the current study. The model developed is depicted in Figure 2 below.



    Figure 2: Contingent Effectiveness Model (Source: Bozeman, 2000)

The model identifies five categories of technology transfer effectiveness contingencies, including: characteristics of the transfer agent, characteristics of the transfer media, characteristics of the transfer object, demand environment, and characteristics of the transfer recipient. The effectiveness of the transfer is identified as follows: out-the-door, market impact, economic development, political advantage, development of scientific and technical human capital and opportunity cost considerations.  The model was revised and now contains an additional effectiveness criterion: public value.

The research on the measurement of corporate technology capability. (Lin, 1997)

Lin, (1997) proposed that companies that acquire technology during the transfer process required a particular level of technological capability in order to successfully incorporate the technology. In his study he then developed a multidimensional model to measure the capability of the transferor to adopt new technologies via a technology transfer. The following six dimensions were concluded to determine the capability of the transferee.

1st Level

Focus 2nd Level

Dimensions 3rd Level

Measurement Indicators

Technology Capability Experience capability % of technology staff to total staff

Annual turnover rate of employees

Similar experience in technology development or introduction


capability R&D budget in the year of transfer

% of R&D budget to sales in year of technology transfer

Extent of management emphasis on technology transfer


capability The newness of the current physical equipment

Capability to measure the production or quality parameters

Degree of automation in equipment, machinery and facility

Number of new product introductions compared with competition


capability Ratio of successful new product introductions

The sales value per employee in year of technology transfer

Accumulation of past experience in problem-solving activities


capability Degree of updating information

Degree of ease in accessing and retrieving information


capability Experience and capability of the transfer project manager

Relative bargaining power of the technology source

Quality of management and operational capability of the recipient

Table 3: Measurement dimensions and indicators of technology capability (Source: Lin, 1997)

Key recent articles and their findings

The Assessment of Technology Transfer Implementation in Indonesia's Manufacturers: (Widiawan, 1997)

This paper was written with the intention of assessing the effectiveness of the technology transfer in Indonesia's manufacturing industry. The findings of the study showed that the technology components transferred were technoware, inforware and humanware. The study stated that purchasing machinery, obtaining assistance for technology, consulting, joint research etc. are the factors that link the technology transfer process. The obstacles in the technology transfer were identified as high investment costs and the lack of skilled human resources with technical competency. Further the study concluded with providing a list of criteria that needed to be considered when deciding on the transferor of technology. Service provided, level of technology, aftersales services, reputation, cost, geographic distance etc. are the main criteria that needs to be looked into. Lower production costs, increasing efficiency and quality, minimizing defects and minimizing dependency on a single transferor were identified as the ultimate results of the technology transfer conducted in the manufacturing industry in Indonesia.

Challenges to technology transfer: A literature review of the constraints on environmental technology dissemination (Daniel et al. 2009)

This study focuses on the challenges faced in environmental technology innovation. The study examined diffusion mechanisms, market factors, social characteristics and political elements that facilitate and challenge distribution of technology. The findings of the study can be identified three main problems faced in eco-innovation: asymmetric information, market power and externalities. Further it was identified that the uncertainties in the measuring of the quality of innovation as well as pricing affects the adoption of new technologies. The authors identified that the rate of technology adoption depended on the levels of cost effectiveness of the new technologies that were transferred. Hence the first adopters were identified to be the organizations or individuals who foresaw the largest perceived profits. This study went on to further emphasize on the fact that existing, long standing legal systems and practices were challenged by the new technologies that were innovated and subsequently transferred (e.g.: Intellectual Property Rights), which means that the legal systems should be aware of these changes and constantly evolve with the changes in the legal environment. The study further found that new technological innovation responds quickly to incentives while at the same time the said innovations in a particular field would eventually face diminishing returns in time, social returns that are gained from environmental research are high while the type of adoption policy used would affects the nature of new innovations, which should be kept in mind for future transfers. Daniel et al., 2009, states that there are a number of characteristics of developing nations that hinder innovation, for example: a lack of scientists and researchers, brain drain, small market size, lack of infrastructure, telecommunications infrastructure, quality of the business environment and governance conditions etc. Facilitators of adoption of technology were identified to be environmental feasibility, obtaining pre-requisite technical knowledge, higher levels of patent protection, networks for collaboration etc.

Technology transfer in Asia: challenges from a cross-cultural perspective: (Hirt, 2012)

This study was conducted with the purpose of identifying the challenges faced in the international transfer of technology conducted by human resources which results in interactions between cultures.

The findings of this study are in direct contrast to the findings of Western literature as it revealed that highly successful technology transfer partners or relationships could be formed not only between countries which boast of collectivism and masculinity but also more feminine countries. The findings also certified that closeness between countries in cultural form does not necessarily result in a technology transfer that is without challenges. The study's findings conclude by stating that even if both parties, the transferor and the transferee, follow the same mother tongue along with similar cultural communication patterns this isn't adequate for a successful transfer, if mutually understandable approaches to communication are not followed and adopted.


Empirical examples for technology transfer from the Local arena

Technology transfer is not just a theoretical concept, which exists purely for research purposes. Many examples of technology transfers can be identified locally as well as abroad. Technology is usually transferred from a technologically developed country to a less developed country. We currently reside in a prime example of a developing country, which means that many examples for technology transfers can be obtained.

Lotus Tower Construction - Colombo

One of the most recent and ongoing technology transfers in Sri Lanka can be identified as the Lotus Tower construction. This tower boasts of a height of 350 meters and a floor area which is spread over 30600 sq. meters, located in the heart of Colombo. The lotus shaped tower will be used for communication and observation. The construction cost amounts to $104.3 million, funded by EXIM Bank of the People's Republic of China.

The reasons for the decision to adopt a technology transfer mechanism for this project can be identified as follows:

'' Even though the Sri Lankan engineers have the knowledge to do a project of this capacity, they do not have the required experience, since a project of this calibre has never been done in Sri Lanka. In order to lower the cost which needs to be incurred on value adding activities and learning they, have proceeded with the decision to conduct the technology transfer.

'' TRCSL (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka) had an objective of developing the Sri Lankan telecommunication system by increasing the number of television channels to fifty and radio channels to thirty five.

'' When building the Lotus Tower which stands at a height of 352 meters, climatic conditions like temperature, wind from the ocean etc. have to be considered. As Sri Lanka doesn't have the expert support or required to analyse and adapt to the findings, they have decided on a technology transfer.

'' To enhance the competitive strength of Sri Lanka through tourism.

'' To catch up with the latest technological developments.  E.g.:- converting the analog signal transmissions to digital signals.

'' To avoid research and development and engineering costs.

'' China is a country with a large population and high unemployment. The Chinese government is unable to provide job opportunities for all of them. So as a solution China decided to expand their job market to Asian countries in order to give job opportunities for their own citizens.

'' To generate employment and investment opportunities in areas which could not activated due to lack of technology.

Technology that has been transferred for the construction of Lotus Tower can be divided into 3 parts. Namely;

'' Technoware

Technoware includes all the equipment used in construction and machines as well as tools and systems adopted for the functioning of the Lotus Tower. Some of these equipment and systems are received through local subcontractors and some are being transferred through the main contractor CEIEC in China.

Systems that have been transferred includes:

'' Telephone system

'' Generic cabling network system and wireless ordering system

'' Information publishing system

'' Cable TV distribution system

'' Video surveillance control system

'' Access control systems

'' Wireless patrol system

'' Wireless intercom system

'' Public address system

'' Clock system

'' Building equipment monitoring system

Transferred equipment includes

'' Loaders

'' Auto cranes

'' Excavators

'' Forklifts truck

'' Concrete batching and mixing plants

'' Concrete mixture truck

'' Tractive pump

'' Humanware

The Lotus Tower was designed by Chinese architects as per the requirements specified by the Sri Lankan engineers. About 70% of the worker base consists of Chinese employees with experience and skills of constructing towers around the world. There are 4 Chinese translators currently employed by the Lotus Tower project to overcome the language barriers during work. Civil Engineering Undergraduates from universities in China are also employed in this project.

'' Infoware

Technical instruction manuals and equipment handling guide books are also transferred along with the equipment for the Lotus Tower project.


'' Construction scheme for heating ventilation and air conditioning project.

'' Tower cleaning scheme for Lotus Tower.

'' Method statement of the organization design of the Colombo Lotus Tower revolving restaurant platform.

'' Construction schemes of plumbing work.

'' Electrical construction scheme.

Transfer Mechanism

Lotus Tower was initiated based on a combination of Turnkey Contract and Expert service.

The parties to the contract include:

Transferor (contractor) - China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC).

Transferee (client) - Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).

Benefits of the Lotus Tower technology transfer

Owing to the technology transfer and the construction of the tower, there has been a significant rise in employment opportunities. (30% of the total workforce are Sri Lankans)

The project will be an immense experience as well as an opportunity for the local engineers to observe and analyse the new technology. As a result any future use of the same technology can be handled domestically without international involvement.

The future return from tourism is expected to rise by 30% after the completion of the project since the Lotus Tower is predicted to attract more tourists to the country.

The tower enhances Telecommunication since clear signals will be transmitted throughout the entire Colombo District ensuring equitable transmission.

One of the main objectives of the Lotus Tower is to establish itself as a symbolic landmark in the world thereby making Sri Lanka a country renowned worldwide. The Lotus Tower is presumed to be the 19th highest tower in the world.

The Sri Lankan culture and Buddhism will be promoted by the structure of the tower and the proposed cultural museum to be built in the tower.

The issues faced due to the Lotus Tower technology transfer.

The language barrier can be viewed as one of the main practical issues relating to the technology transfer.

There is a high risk of uncertainty with regard to realizing the colossal expenditure incurred on the project, after its completion.

High interest rates than expected, for the loan obtained from the EXIM Bank of China.

Even though the agreed interest rate was considered to be at a concessionary rate of 0.1%, latest findings point out that the current rate is not concessionary but Quasi concessionary with a rate higher than the agreed rate of 0.1%.

Quality issues relating to the transfer. Certain quality issues have emerged with regard to elevators that were ordered from China.  The elevators are said to have a mild tremor once they are operative.  

Negative environmental impacts caused due to the use of new machinery and technology. The construction involves the use of many new machines laced with new technology from China which cause air and noise pollution.

Change of authority resulting from the change of political leadership.  After the recent government change, the entire top management responsible for the project was transferred.

The Sri Lankan labourers involved, 30%, prolong the construction unnecessarily due to their inefficiency.

Extra costs incurred on forming new housing arrangements for the people whose houses were demolished due to the construction of the Lotus Tower.

Sri Lankan Railway Technology Transfer

The Sri Lankan Railway sector has always been one of the major players in the transportation industry of the country. The railway department was founded in 1958 and has been a state owned monopoly since its inception which boasts of 376 railway stations as of 2015  Despite being the only player in the local railway industry and despite the increasing trend of demand for rail services for transport as well as for freight, the department is said to be loss making. Many commuters prefer rail transport to road due to reasons such as the lack of congestion, lower and more economic charges, ability to transport a large number of passengers' etc. These benefits however have not helped the industry to regain the levels of profitability that it deserves. Some of the main challenges faced by the industry throughout the years can be identified as the reason for the decision to engage in an international technology transfer.

The reasons for the decision to adopt a technology transfer mechanism for this project can be identified as follows:

'' Competition from other forms of transportation: The construction of new roadways and the rise in demand for road transportation has reduced the demand for rail services which has called for a need to expand the rail network.

'' Inefficiency of the rail network: one of the main complaints of passengers has been that they can't board the trains at the times promised.

'' The railway department requires Infrastructure, Motive Power and Rolling Stock and Operation & Commercial activities. This requires expertise from many forms of study. This expertise is said to be lacking among the local engineers who are probably novices in the area.

'' The department being government owned tends to adopt technology based on the credit terms offered by the transferee. This results in the purchase of second rate equipment which requires excessive maintain ace and thereby excessive costs of repair and maintenance.

'' Rail infrastructure (tracks and signaling systems) which was purchased via government contacts are in a state of deterioration causing delays loosing traffic.

'' Disadvantages and prevailing issues of state ownership such as ridged ownership and rule, under paid and demotivated staff, poor quality of service, lack of resources for modernization etc. have also called for the need for a technology transfer.

The Sri Lankan railway conducted two technology transfers: one in 1959 and another in 1997. The study conducted by Hemachandra and Jayawardane, 2007 found that the project conducted in 1959 was successful while the project implemented in 1997 was a failure.

Technology that has been transferred for the railway department can be divided into 3 components. Namely;

'' Technoware

These are all of the hardware and software required for the signalling system, tools and other equipment for installing and maintaining the systems as well as other consumables needed for the functioning of the system.

'' All hardware components required for achieving the expected performance of the system

'' Testing equipment and spare parts for: Wayside Signaling, Interlocking System, CTC System

'' Tools for maintenance, system upgrading and training

'' Training equipment

'' Operating software

'' Application software

'' Programming tools

'' Office equipment, vehicles etc.

'' Humanware

'' Operator Training for system operation and usage

'' Maintainer Training for maintenance of Wayside equipment, Interlocking system, controlling system)

'' System Training

'' Project Training

'' Services of Specialists

'' Design

'' Installation

'' Testing & Commissioning

'' Operation and Management

'' Infoware

'' Installation Manuals

'' Operating manuals

'' Maintenance Manuals

'' Layout diagrams (as installed)

'' Circuit Diagrams

'' Specifications

'' System Design Information

'' Technical Brochures

'' Source Codes of Application software

'' Data Tables

'' Work organization

'' Management procedures

(Hemachandra and Jayawardane, 2007)

Transfer mechanism

The two projects carried out were the Introduction of Colour Light Signalling in suburban railways in 1959 and the Rehabilitation of Signalling on the Coastal line in 1997. According to Hemachandra and Jayawardane, (2007) it is identified that a Stage Gate Model of international technology transfer was followed when conducting this transfer. The Stage Gate process approaches a project by viewing the project from idea to launch, as a series of specific activities that are conducted and followed through to reduce the uncertainty of the project and also to the manage potential risks of the transfer by gathering information to validate or disprove any underlying assumptions (Cooper 2011, 2014).

The railway technology transfer process was initiated by identifying Core Value Determinant enhancing technologies and this was done by confirming identified technologies. Next a focused technology search was conducted, which resulted in project confirmation. Negotiation with the necessary parties was done prior to finalizing and approving the agreement drafted. A project implementation plan was prepared and approved henceforth. The implementation of the technology transfer was conducted next followed by an implementation audit. Finally an impact assessment of the transfer was conducted.

Benefits of the Colour Light Signalling in suburban railways technology transfer

'' Sri Lankan railways was able to increase their technological capabilities by obtaining a higher level of technology components transferred and also they were successful in maintaining mutually beneficial long term relationships with the transferor.

'' The transfer was made further successful due to high levels of commitment displayed by the railway department which followed a strategy of searching for technology as a business strategy

'' The department was able to obtain the right technology for the needed purpose by following the best possible transfer mechanism

Reasons for the project to rehabilitate the Signalling on the Coastal line to be labelled as a failure

'' Not conducting a comprehensive search for technology prior to accepting the offer presented by the transferor resulted in a fundamental mistake in the implementation process.

'' The levels of commitment exhibited by the respective parties towards the project was poor which affected the performance negatively.

'' Poor levels of negotiation was shown by the transferee which resulted in the acceptance of the project purely due to the availability of foreign funds and not based on a non-biased assessment of the technology needed and the technology on offer.

'' Further the final acceptance of the transfer offer was done without critical analysis resulting in poor implementation plans which were not sufficient to meet the requirements of the railways.

'' Lack of power of the transferee resulted in them having to follow an implementation plan which was prepared by the third party in the scenario, the transferor. Hence the levels of learning and expertise gained by the locals were almost non-existent.  

'' No post implementation audits were conducted neither were impact assessments nor planning for future projects.

Technology Transfers in the Construction Sector of Sri Lanka

The construction industry has been a major beneficiary of Sri Lanka's rapid economic development over the past six years. According to NDB Securities, in 2014 Sri Lanka's construction sector expanded by more than 20% and since 2009 the industry has grown twice as fast as the country's GDP. The construction sector had a growth of 21% compared to 14.2% 2011. The construction sector contributed to 8% of the GDP

The construction sector has seen a massive development since 2012 with the initiation of the economic infrastructure development programme which focused on all areas of construction including the development of roads, water supply and sanitation, ports and aviation, transport, housing and urban development, establishment of industrial zones, hospitals and warehousing and logistic centres etc.

The reasons for the adoption of international technology transfer in the construction sector can be identified as follows:

'' To improve productivity of the projects since the local knowledge in the relevant areas are not necessarily up to the required standards. This is mainly due the ease of entry into the construction arena.

'' To increase the growth of local labourers knowledge and skills. The international technology transfers will bridge the technology gaps faced by the country's workforce, especially since Sri Lanka is an emerging economy.  

'' The international construction workers hired to share their knowledge are extremely familiar with advanced technology which is a significant opportunity for the locals starting out in the industry. This knowledge will be useful when engaging in similar projects in the future since the need for third party expertise will be non-existent.

Transfer mechanism used for technology transfer in the construction sector

Subcontracting mechanisms are the most popular and most common transfer mechanisms in the construction sector. Abbott, (1985) stated that the most successful technology transfers were achieved where the parties followed a team approach which saw staff from the transferring organization as well as the transferee organization working together to share knowledge and responsibility for the execution of tasks in design as well as construction of the technology which was to be transferred. The participation of local nationals in training programs along with the foreign subcontractors is a method employed to transfer important technical knowledge, also known as humanware. The locals are able to gain a significant amount of knowledge from such training programs and it also provides them with a sense of motivation and purpose as they feel like they are looked after by their employers.

Further to increase efficiency in execution of the transfer, the two parties: the transferor and the transferee should maintain a minimal institutional gap, meaning that the local constructors should have a role in the management functions and in decision making to an extent. This will ensure that the transfer cost will be compensated by the successful project implementation as well as through the knowledge gained for future projects.

The successes in subcontracting have been achieved due to collaborative efforts between government and other construction stakeholders in making sure that there are environment/infrastructures to facilitate the transfer, absorption and diffusion of new technology.

One of the most critical success factors of conducting a technology transfer via subcontracting have been stated by Devapriya & Ganesan, (2002) as selecting appropriate technology for transfer. The study conducted by Abbott, (1985) focuses on issues such as design and construction techniques, the technology capability of the supporting industries that provide the parties engaged in the transfer with material, equipment and other specialized services needed for the said design and construction of the current project as well as for other projects that would arise. There was little concern with these issues in the SCAs surveyed in Sri Lanka. For example, a water proofing technique for which the knowledge was obtained from an international contractor was discovered to be too costly for the application in government funded multi-storied buildings. (Devapriya & Ganesan, 2002)

Empirical Examples for Technology Transfer from the International Arena

Technology Transfer of Korean Public Information Systems

Public information systems are information databases that are available for use of the general public. Orman, 1989 identifies three generations of public information systems: information packaging systems which provide minimal sharing, information retrieval systems with provisions for sharing data but not processes, and finally information processing systems, which provide maximal sharing of data and processes. With the rise in the use of the World Wide Web and other online services the need for public information systems have increased. National Science and Technology Information Service (NTIS), which provides public information regarding national Research and development information, was aiming to transfer its system overseas so as to meet the rising export demand for a public information system. (Lee, Kang, Lim, Choi & Lee, 2016)

The study conducted by Lee et al., evaluates the technology transfer done by KCS (Korean Customs Service) which launched an electronic newspaper service that was focused on the development of an export customs system which would be operated with no documents. This system was then transferred to many countries including but not limited to Nepal, Mongolia, Cameroon, Dominican Republic etc. As part of their technology transfer of the system referred to as UNI-PASS, KCS first focuses on maintaining relationships with the country under consideration. They then held workshops which provided the users with the required knowledge to deal with issues that arose after the implementation of the system. Plans were made on how to deal with political and economic issues, influences of international trade on economic growth, political and economic environment changes etc.

Further, Lee et al., evaluates the technology transfer done by International Technology Transfer of PPS (Public Procurement Service) and KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office) which focused on strengthening the concept of e-government by reducing the need for administrative work. Further, PPS is said to have cooperated with third parties such as foreign official institutes or private IT companies to make the system more familiar to interested parties, by enhancing the international marketing. They also focused on differentiated methods of transferring the system. For instance, the transferring of the system with the support of KOICA funding to countries that do not have enough budget facilities was extremely successful.

Technology Transfer between Hyundai Motors and Daewoo Motors

Hyundai's technology transfer started with the sharing of learning and specialized knowledge between developed and more experienced parties. They followed a strategy of licensing multiple technologies from experienced international sources and worked towards integrating the learning gained from the licensing into their own production systems. In addition to the direct integration of technologies to their existing process, they also spent time and funds on research and development in order to obtain innovation capabilities. This successful strategy of Hyundai enabled them to develop their first model with 90% local content, called 'Pony', which resulted in Korea becoming the second Asian nation with its own automobile sector. Hyundai exported 62,592 cars to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, accounting for 67 percent of Korea's total auto exports from 1976-1980, and 97 percent of total passenger car exports from Korea in the period 1983-1986. Pony accounted for 98 percent of Hyundai's exports during these periods (Kim, 1998).

Daewoo on the other hand was a Joint Venture with General Motors (GM), had to abide by the policies and objectives of GM resulting in a passive learning process since the suppliers had guaranteed the performance of the transferred technology. Only a minimum amount of funds were utilized for research and development even though they were a much larger company compared to the local Hyundai Motors. However, after the managerial control was taken over from GM, Daewoo focused on using funds for research and development of their transferred technologies.   

Reverse engineering was used by public institutions as a method of transferring foreign technology. (Kim, 2002). Since the respective parties faced a minimal research focus in local Universities, the government established a research institute, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) which consisted of overseas-trained Korean scientists and engineers. It is stated by Kim, (1991) that KIST played a role in the transfer of technology via reverse engineering of foreign technology. For instance, when a Japanese company refused to transfer to a Korean chemical firm polyester film production technology due to a fear of losing its market in Korea, the firm in partnership with KIST commenced reverse engineering to reinvent the production technology. (Kim, 1991).


Limitations and areas for future research

Many theories in cross-cultural studies as well as dispersion of technology were developed in the Western world and are based on individualistic features. Within technology transfer processes ethnocentric biases are often forgotten. Hence technology transfer research should be conducted for business interactions between Asian countries and the West, which would provide scholars in the region with more accurate findings. Further since culture seems to play a large role in the international technology transfer process future research should focus on the human and social side of the transfer process.

It was identified from the literature review that the traditional liner models are not in use in the present technological environment, neither are the non-linear models. At present a new concept of hybrid models are in use. Since the technological environment is diverse and dynamic it would be beneficial if further studies were conducted on this concept to provide the interested parties with an extensive knowledge base that is in tandem with the changing environment.

It was identified in Secundo et al,. 2016 that the Maturity Model

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