Espacios. Vol. 34 (9) 2013. Pág. 8

Technology strategies: the influence of technology transfer and audit technological in the furniture industries in southern Brazil

Estratégias tecnológicas: a influência da transferência e da auditoria tecnológica nas indústrias moveleiras do sul do Brasil

Luani BACK 1; João Luiz KOVALESKI 2 y Pedro Paulo de ANDRADE JUNIOR 3

Recibido: 18-06-2013 - Aprobado: 18-07-2013


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This paper describes how the technological audit and transfers of technologies contribute to trace the technological strategies to be adopted by the furniture industry of western Paraná. The research began with a literature review and subsequently used the qualitative approach to conduct the investigation. The research universe consists of furniture industry in Paraná, where they held a multicase study. We used the interview as an instrument for data collection and the interpretation occurred through the technique of content analysis. It was found that the studied companies use technology transfer as technology strategy to ensure competitiveness through the acquisition of technologies and activities all around. To identify existing technologies in the industry, and its efficiency, managers do not make use of audit technology and yes we analyze the process and identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. This way of identifying the technologies, despite achieving corporate goals, does not achieve the results of an audit technology. This is why the audit examines both the external and internal environment of the company and identifies the relationship of human resources for the company's performance.
Key-words: Technology strategies; technology audit; technology transfer..

Este artigo descreve como a auditoria tecnológica e as transferências de tecnologias contribuem para traçar as estratégias tecnológicas a serem adotadas pelas indústrias moveleira do oeste do Paraná. A pesquisa iniciou através de levantamento bibliográfico e em seguida utilizou-se a abordagem qualitativa para conduzir a investigação. O universo da pesquisa é constituido por indústrias moveleiras paranaenses, onde se realizou um estudo multicaso. Utilizou-se a entrevista como instrumento para a coleta de dados e a interpretação ocorreu por intermédio da técnica de análise de conteúdo. Constatou-se que as empresas estudadas utilizam a transferência de tecnologia como estratégia tecnológica para garantir competitividade, através da aquisição de tecnologias e de todas as atividades em torno. Para identificar as tecnologias existentes na indústria, e sua eficiência, os gestores não fazem uso da auditoria tecnológica e sim analisam o processo e identificam os gargalos e as possibilidades de melhoria. Esta maneira de identificar as tecnologias, apesar de atingir os objetivos da empresa, não atinge os resultados de uma auditoria tecnológica. Isso acontece por que a auditoria examina simultaneamente o ambiente externo e interno da empresa e identifica a relação de recursos humanos para o desempenho da empresa.
Palavras-chave: Estratégia tecnológica; auditoria tecnológica; transferência de tecnologia.

1. Introduction

Currently, in a fully globalized environment, organizations need to adopt an innovative attitude in the face of fierce competition worldwide. These companies are in the technological transformation a strategy for achieving competitive advantage. This way they avoid creating a gap in relation to the need and ability to innovate. In other words, the innovation often results of pressure, need or adversity (OLIVEIRA; KAMINSKIB, 2012).

Activities involving the accumulation, transfer, application and diffusion of knowledge and technology have been seen by many as the key to economic prosperity (SUNG; GIBSON, 2005). There is a clear need to formulate strategies that can combine technologies with market opportunities in order to achieve a dynamic correspondence between an innovative attitude and market demands (OLIVEIRA; KAMINSKIB, 2012). However, the various strategies and processes for technology transfers are difficult to set up to monitor and manage (Philpott et al., 2011; RESENDEA et al, 2013).

In this context, it is critical that organizations keep yourself updated to the market, for meeting the demand with agility and quality. To do this, managers must outline goals in parallel with business strategies that consider technology as the main factor of competitiveness. In summary, management is necesssária to identify technology opportunities and involves skills in technology change management. It plays a key role in the development of innovation and decision-making (FONSECA et al, 2012).

Within a management process, it is necessary to know all the technological resources available within the company. This is possible through the management tool called technological audit. It aims to identify and maximize the use of these resources, deterninando the degree to which the company uses the technology as a tool for competitiveness, so hows the difficulties that can be addressed with the acquisition of new technologies.

Starting from this premise, this article aims to understand how the technological audit and transfers of technologies contribute to trace the technological strategies to be adopted by the company, as well as practice in the furniture industry of western Paraná.

2. Technology strategies

The management of technology must not only meet the management needs a certain set of specific technologies. It should also develop implementation strategies according to available resources, current technologies, future markets and socioeconomic environment (LINN et al., 2000; LIAO, 2005). The innovation process in organizations are based on technological strategies that aim, through new technologies and administrative proceedings, the reach of production rates and estimated profitability.

The strategy should follow the idea of mapping organizational future directions, assessing the resources available for its implementation that is linked to the set of goals related to the opportunities offered by the internal and external environments (FERNANDES, 2005; SBRAGIA; BOSCOLO, 2011). Investments in technology, as a strategic alternative, for organizations are seen as a way to contribute to improving the competitive performance (VOUDOURIS et al, 2012).

Technology strategies serves as an indispensable element in the planning, development, identification, evaluation and selection of Technologies. Generates technological innovation, negotiation, acquisition, sale or rent of technology, through technology transfer, among organizations, sectors and countries (FONSECA, 2012).

An essential component to the technological strategy is the acquisition of technologies (BELTRÁN; BOSCÁN, 20111). The selection of these technologies should happen through a thorough and effective evaluation that considers the goals and priorities developed at the level of corporate business strategy (CETINDAMAR et al, 2009).

It is very important that companies invest in technology, because it allows the company to increase its capacity by volume and variety of products. It is essential to meet the market that change drastically over time (BROWN, 2001). To serve as a component of their strategy, the company must choose the appropriate way to acquire the necessary technology, because along with the purchase you have to transfer technological knowledge involved (HUNG; TANG, 2008).

The evaluation of the adequacy of technology strategy for the creation of a new company, acquisitions, new product and business development can happen through the assessment of opportunities.  This is possible through data provided by a technological audit conducted in the context relevant to each situation (WALSH; LINTON, 2011).

3. Technological audit

According to Temaguide (1999), the technology management has feramentas to meet their needs, assist in project management, in preparation for the launch of a product in the market and increasing the income of the company. One of these tools is the Technology Audit. It aims to periodically recognize technology resources available in the organization and that should be managed.

The Technology Audit is a method for identifying business requirements, needs, weaknesses and strengths of human resources and infrastructure. This technique examines both the external and internal environment of the company and identifies the relationship of human resources for the company's performance. A technological audit seeks ensure the alignment between the strategies of the company and its share of technological development, positioning technologically the company with its competitors and identify improvements in the management process of the organization (GAITÁN, 2002). 

A thorough evaluation of the technology is critical to the realization of a process of technology transfer success. It is essential that a technological audit assesses the ability of the organization create, crontrol and have access to a technology. It is important to note the existence of routine skills or competences for effectively use a particular technology.  These capabilities are resources for production through a combination of factors such as equipment, skills and organizational methods.

To Gaitán (2002), the audit technology process starts with the construction of a matrix of relationships between organizational strategies and key technologies used by the company to achieve the defined objectives. The next step involves the prioritization of services the company provides, or the products it produces, through an ordered list according to their importance on the criteria of their participation in the market, its life cycle, impact, participation costs, among others.

After is need to analyze one by one the products or services to identify the factors of competitiveness against the competition and establish production steps, and then build a relationship matrix between them, to know  the contribution of each stage of the process for competitiveness factors described. Then it is necessary to evaluate the technology and the technological capabilities of the company, comparing the technologies in use with those who are available or can be developed or acquired. Held this sequence of steps, it is possible to evaluate the real level of development of each company's strategy to achieve their goals, and identify potential improvements and innovation opportunities (GAITÁN, 2002).

4. Technology transfer

To remain competitive the companies seek in the acquisition of new technologies meet the market demands.  This is one of the most important processes technology management and is considered a technology transfer process (BELTRÁN; BOSCÁN, 2011).

The movement of a specific set of resources involved with a new technology, of one entity to another is called technology transfer.  It is a planned process, selective and focusing on implementing technology that the company does not have, making it an effective tool for acquiring new technologies and business development (KIYOTA; OKAZAKI, 2005; BRAGA JR et al, 2009).

Technology transfer is a process to promote technical innovation through the transfer of ideas, knowledge, devices and artifacts from leading companies, R & D in the organizations and academic for application in industry and commerce (CORMICAN; O’SULLIVAN, 2004).

The process of technology transfer starts with recognizing opportunities or needs within an organization to optimize its processes or services through search, comparison, selection, acquisition, implementation and long-term use, which includes the learning and development (BRAGA JR, 2009; FREITAS et al, 2009).

The transferred technologies are rarely fully used as the source, but are adapted to the local reality. These adaptations generate changes and improvements in technology that often generate potential transfers. Therefore, need a constant monitoring of all stages of this process in the organization to ensure that everything goes as planned and to ensure effective transfer (BACH et al, 2002; BOZARTH, 2006).

Technology transfer is not restricted to large companies, many small businesses are able to create new technologies and even be receiving. Small companies use this procedure to improve the quality of their products / services and their supply chain, on the logic that your entries will better in the future (KREMIC, 2003). A study with small businesses showed that the effects are observable in the economic results achieved and the position in which they can achieve or maintain in the market (market share, quality of products / services), the positive effects generated in the chain in terms of economy national (raising the standard of living of the population and the increase in exports) (SIMA, 2009).

5. Methods

The research began with a literature review on the subject of study in order to direct and guide research from the review of literature relevant to the question posed. This step allowed the construction of a consistent base of knowledge to contextualize the theoretical and practical problem.

Later we used a qualitative approach to conduct the research, as this facilitates the understanding and measurement of the nature of the phenomenon of definition and adoption of technological strategies, as well as the impact of this technology audit practice.

The research consists of four furniture industries Paraná large located in the municipality of Mediatrix, composed of a purposive sample of three industries selected according to accessibility, production, maturity and breadth of market. The three industries have great representation in the national market, two of which work with export.

The later stage understood the intentional selection of research subjects and, as a criterion we considered persons with experience and accumulated knowledge about the aspects involving the issues in question. For data collection instrument was used as the interview. The choice was based on the assertion Bryman (1989), in which the interview allows the informant is spontaneous and enrich the interpretation that seeks to describe and understand the occurrence of variables of a specific phenomenon.

Due to the confidentiality agreement with the interviewees during the study, companies were not been identified. Adoutou is an alphanumeric code for each company, eg: C1 - Company 1.

The interpretation of data collected occured through the technique of content analysis, which for Bardin (1993) is presented as a set of analysis techniques that seeks communications indicators to conclusions concerning the knowledge wrapped production / reception of these messages, through systematic procedures.

The interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. Thereafter they have been read and reread in order to identify significant portions to compose of the content studied.

6. Analysis and discussion of results

This section presents the description and analysis of the contents of the interviews with the managers responsible for the activities in question in the furniture industry in the selected study. Addressed aspects such as pocesso determination of technological strategies of the company, the use of technology transfer and technological audit and their difficulties.

6.1. Characterization of technological strategies

In order to understand the perception and determination of technological strategies of companies studied in this item describe and discuss the answers given by managers related to the process of determining these strategies, difficulties and actions taken to overcome such difficulties.

For all managers the determination process technological strategies starts through a perceived need in the business, be it to increase productivity, to process failures or competitive differential:

Comes the issue of modify the processes, benchmarking, we have to maintain differentiation in customer service, has that issue of cost reduction, responsiveness, visits in the fairs (C1).

[...] we determine the strategy seeing how our processes are, what can be improved (C2).

We seek, is, to analyze the processes that are needed for a higher technological level, and then we analyze the feasibility of investing in technology, machinery, processes, to have a competitive (C3).

Another factor that contributes to determine the strategies for technology are presented in the sector fairs, which aprentam innovations in equipment, software, and market trends, as the depositions:

[...] So has the fair, the conversation with the coach, with consultants, the issue of renewal. Agent has to go renewing the plant, changing the processes, understand? Simplifying what we do (C1).

[...] Every one or two years has a fair that it happens in Italy [...] we take advantage of the opportunity to see what's new in a matter of machinery. [...] we studied the possibility of deploying here (C3).

Only one manager said that strategies should consider reducing the legwork:

And there's also an important issue, make work lighter and more efficient. Nowadays nobody wants to be doing more strength [...] (C1).

This position reflects the concern to meet the needs of employees and motivate them to seek knowledge. This factor although favoring the reduction of difficulties related to labor does not delete them, as reported by two of the industries studied respondents, when asked which of the major limitations to the adoption of strategies relating to technology:

[...] Training. We have had some cases, that with certain machines some employees did not adapt. There is also the issue of education, age, etc. [...] It is sometimes necessary to redo the training (C1).

[...] We have a limit (as the manpower). [...] So you have to determine who has the ability and start to qualify this person and train, right? It is a process that takes a little time, not is the one month to another that we have a skilled worker to operate a machine [...] (C3).

For the manager of the company 2, the manpower does not affect the adoption of technological strategies:

No, the difficulties are not great in this part (manpower). [...] we have a staff for a long time with us, and then our process is not so difficult. So who already ta there already have a notion, a base, than do (C2).

This happens due to higher incentives to employees' learning and minimal process modifications. The manager says his staff has entrusted to highly qualified chief of staff in their functions, ie, that have years of experience coupled with specific training. This feature facilitates the dissemination of knowledge and the proper functioning of embedded technologies in production processes.

This industry has the greatest difficulty with the high cost of both purchasing and installation and operation of technologies:

[...]The first difficulty we encounter is the high financial cost. And thinking about it too, whenever we see the physical space that any change requires a major change in the layout of the machines (C2).

The 2 industry until a certain time had little space for expansion or even replacement of equipment, making it difficult changes. After breaking down barriers and detect the need to monitor and capture the market, aiming at production speed, quality and profitability the company has undergone expansions and plans no longer have problems with installation and equipment acquisition.

The interviewee of Company 3, reports that a part of installation is also one of the difficulties faced:

[...] Nor cease to be part of a facility of this machine, which is one, will change the production process, right? Will stop the manufacture, install, test, evaluate if this place alright and there begin operating (C3).

Through these statements we can see that the production planning should be allied to technological changes, so that the modification or improvement of a process does not come to cause any harm to other processes, or even noncompliance with deadlines.

Both companies that reported difficulty with the adequacy of the workforce said they invest in training so that this factor does not limit the new technology, according to the testimony of the manager of the company 3:

Capacity, training right? We tried to make sure that the operator is also involved with the process for him to have a stimulus also to want to learn (C3).

The manager of company 1 says that training is a priority, as well as the valuation of labor. And if the problem is not solved the employee is not dismissed, but relocated to another part of the company:

You know, is not that the agent will waive the persons. She is relocated to another function that suits her. [...] There is a clear understanding that one of our greatest property is the manpower [...] The staff of mounting also, as they are the company's image in the external environment. If the guy doesn’t mount well one mobile that was well made, it's no use: if it was poorly installed the mobile is not good (E1).

Already for firm 2, planning is seen as a move to minimize difficulties with financial cost and adequacy of layout:

We always do long-term planning [...]. The company has to be in a good financial health to think about innovation in machinery and processes.  Any machine that has a large technology embedded is expensive, so we have to have good planning. And before the machine be mounted and the beginning of the process, we always try the best way to adapt the process flow and the layout (E2).

Make purchases of high cost financial requires good planning, so that the expenses of the organization do not exceed your budget and not affect its operation. Make purchases of high cost financial requires good planning, so that the expenses of the organization do not exceed your budget and not affect its operation. The planning of this action aims to produce in greater amount antecipadamentes to not affect the other process steps that depend the on that is produced in this equipment in maintenance / installation.

Through these responses is possible to see that the technology strategies, at the companies studied do not have a definition and that are traced upon of needs identified in the production process in parallel with the supply of technologies presented at industry trade shows, both coming from Brazil and abroad.

6.2. Characterization of technology transfer

The transfer of technology, used properly, promotes the competitiveness of the company within its business strategy, increasing their technological level. It enables the modernization of production, including the reduction of production costs and maximizing profits, organization and management, and service delivery (SIMA, 2009).

Technology transfer is an integral part of the technological strategies of the three companies studied, through investments in technology and to keep them working fully within the industry:

Yes, in the purchase of machines and advanced technologies (E2).

The companies report that they use technology transfer to acquire the national technologies and coming from abroad, both in equipment and in software and consulting, and thus obtain a differential before the competition:

When we had the chairs factory, for a time we had an American consultant. Right? That tava agent seeking to learn new processes of collage, etc, machining, understand? Here already is Brazilian technology, though some are imported equipment (E1).

[...]And here in the main processes predominate Italian machines. [...] We got these machines, they have a competitive advantage from other [...]. So always we give top priority to these, so that we will have a differential, a more sophisticated product (E3).

During the process of technology transfer, and even after his execution, managers of companies collect information to promote new transfers, and thus avoid repeating mistakes and ensure process efficiency.

[...] Whenever we buy a new machine or when a new process have we always try to know first, or have an idea of who can provide us, and how to act and how to work with this new process (E2).

[...] That from the time that we invest in a machine, for example, improve a process. So improving this process we will have a return, and it makes us see and analyze the feasibility of investing in another process that is also limited [...] that we will have a productivity gain, ai thereafter we know that it is a point that can be invested, a process that can be invested (E3).

With the use of the machine and the system there, we realized that it was 100%. Now we are looking to buy a new machine and we are adding more features, the machine is greater [...] (E1).

The identification of technology needs aims to assist in the analysis of technological priorities, which can serve several projects based on specific technologies and programs that can facilitate technology transfer and access to these (BELTRÁN; BOSCÁN, 2011).

Technology transfer within the industries surveyed is seen as a tool for promoting competitiveness, which includes the acquisition, installation, training and operation of the new technology, then to achieve the expected results.

The fact of the industries studied collect information from experiences with transfer processes contributes to the efficiency of the next similar activities. This analysis can be formalized and reach a greater number of benefits if make use of audit technology because it considers many variables not contemplated by subjective analysis performed.

6.3. Characterization of technological audit

One of the main requirements for the development of technological strategies understands the technology needs of the organization as well as the results obtained with previous technology transfers. These data are obtained through technology audits, which should allow characterizing the needs of an organization.

The three companies surveyed reported no use of technological audit to conduct surveys of available technologies within the industry as well as to identify their technology needs and difficulties.

The manager of the company 1 related the lack of this technique with the lack of knowledge in the area:

We do not have this. [...] This is precisely the part that as I have no training in the area, which is a side that we do not think. We have some processes that I have written, painting, anything. [...] It's like that... Informal (E1).

At the same time, two of the companies claim to detect the need for investment in this area and even the results of technology transfers already undertaken through analysis of the manufacturing process:

We analyze the bottlenecks. [...] Here we have identified the problem and try to plan where alter, whether it is in person or machine if the has to change, improve or change it in place, which you have to do. [...] So often we have identified the problem after it has already happened and this is not a preventive (E2).

It is done as follows: we analyze which process is limited at the factory, but not through the audit. We analyze the bottleneck and some limitation and then study the feasibility of installing a new machine, a new process (E3).

The biggest difficulty faced by enterprises to realize the Technology Audit is the lack of knowledge of this tool and its benefits:

I think we do not understand as a necessity (E1).

For us suddenly an audit is not a priority that we have within the company. So that there ends up being a bit irrelevant to some extent. Why we can make this survey through simply analyzing production, time control, flow control process, overtime, then all that kind of variable we can converge to the process that is more limited and from there make an investment (E3).

Only one of the companies plan to promote actions to overcome this difficulty. This seeking information about Technology Audit tool and want within a short space of time put to practice this activity:

At first is not being done at all. We are intending to formalize this audit which will use as a basis for future decisions to be made (E2).

Despite the companies in question do not use this tool technology management, all managers claim information collect from past experience to select and adopt new technologies, and determine the technological strategies of industry:

We care with this part of the expectation that we had, what results and what needs to change (E1).

After working some time we looked at the numbers, and especially the cost, if ve been favorable or not. [...] So if this change went wrong we'll think twice, and then switch to this process, not to have a cost and not have new improvements in the process. [...] And thus we determine these strategies (E2).

Why be have a positive return we will analyze where we can do that too. If we have a negativo return we already know how not brought back, we need to know why they did not return to the next or the next situation right now have this vision, right?  (E3). 

The benefits of technological audit, still unknown by managers, goes beyond identify gaps in the process and possibilities for improvement. This tool allows for the collection of information related to all the technology available in the organization. This facilitates the determination of the level of technology, ie, the company's ability to adopt new technologies in relation to the complexity of these. Deploy technologies of extreme complexity does not guarantee good results to the company if it does not possess the technical capabilities and human resources to operate it.

The successful adoption of new technologies is to obtain new skills and upgrade the level of skills of the labor force dominated by the company, as well as by managing all activities linked to new technology. The selection of this new technology must happen through a thorough evaluation and effective, considering a good understanding of the objectives and priorities developed at the level of corporate business strategy (BOOTHBY et al 2010; CETINDAMAR et al, 2009).

7. Conclusion

This study aimed to understand how audit technology and technology transfer contribute to strategize technology to be adopted by organizations as well as practice in the furniture industry of Paraná.

In order to understand the theoretical concepts of technological audit, technology transfer and technology strategies were conducted a literature search, which also led to know the relationship between them. After this analysis we sought to examine the practices and difuldades related to these concepts within organizations.

The theoretical understanding helps to identify gaps in business practice, allowing a realistic stance in formulating proposals for improvements in industrial processes surveyed.

It was found, through interviews, that companies determines their technological strategies through needs identified in the process of production and auxiliary activities, as well as the offer of technology in the market. The labor, disruption of production and high costs financial are difficulties related to this practice. The managers seek to resolve these problems through employee training, and planning for the acquisition and installation of new technology, so the downtime of the process and the financial costs do not affect industrial activity.

The determination of the technological strategy of these companies in question must also consider, as Voudouris et al (2012), the market that seeks to achieve the verification of organizational and operational capacity in relation to the range and implementation of new strategies. It is possible to trace obetivos and strategies based on organizational experiences, seeking to enhance the factors that are already taking advantage and change those that are not consistent with company goals, or who may be readequados to achieve higher production rates and profitability according to new technologies that the market offers and the possibilities of technology transfer.

It was also verified that the studied companies use technology transfer as a strategy to ensure competitiveness through the acquisition of technologies and activities all around, such as training and consulting. During this process the claim managers gather information that might be useful for further transfers within the company and for the selection and adoption of new technologies based on technology strategy. The failure to implement or the wrong choice of technology directly affects the strategies of the organization that must change to adapt to the new context created by this factor.

The three companies studied reported no use of Technology Audit, claiming not to know its functionality and even for judging unnecessary. Only one company is concerned about this reality and claims to be seeking to know and use it.

To identify existing technologies in the industry, and its efficiency, managers analyzes the process, based on a production planning, and identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. They argue that based on this information raised promote the selection and adoption of new technologies, as well as determine new technological strategies.

Investments in technology alone will not significantly collaborate to achieve competitiveness. This is due to limited knowledge and capcacitação of managers and staff involved in the implementation of new technologies. It is of great importance in the investment in the managers with more enhanced capabilities, training programs and improvements of labor. When descosider these conditions, there is risk of loss of benefits that can be generated from the optimal relation between technology and human resource, to understand and assimilates the importance this investing and its complexity, thus preventing the emergence of barriers imposed by involved in this process, especially in relation to the changes (O’CONNOR, 1990; CANTISANI, 2006).


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1 Universidade Tecnológica Federal de Paraná – UTFPR, Brasil.
2 Universidade Tecnológica Federal de Paraná – UTFPR, Brasil.
3 Universidade Tecnológica Federal de Paraná – UTFPR, Brasil.

Vol. 34 (9) 2013

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