Espacios. Vol. 35 (Nº 2) Año 2014. Pág. 5
Identification of priority themes in management of technology to 2020
Identificación de temas prioritarios en gestión tecnológica hacia el 2020
Jhon Wilder ZARTHA Sossa1, Juan Felipe HERRERA Vargas, Sandra María BEDOYA Correa
Recibido: 08/11/13 • Aprobado: 15/12/13
This article presents the results of a focused research with the objective to find the most important themes in management of technology and acquires information to formulate futures strategies for groups of research and organizations oriented to this area. This research provides a prospective analysis in the areas of Technological Forecast, Technology Transfer, Knowledge Management, Science and Technology Policy, and Management planned for a future of 10 years, between 2010 and 2020. Based on the experience and know-how of each research groups or organizations working in management of technology, they can use the results of this research to support new educational graduate programs like specializations, masters or doctorates, also serving as a support for future lines of research on the subject and advance-guard projects. At this way, it will get a incorporation of the institutions under a regional approach to productivity oriented to the international competitiveness.
The fundamental pillar of this investigation was the identification of the most important topics of Management of Technology toward 2020 through a two round Delphi method, consulting Colombian and international experts in the 5 mentioned topics.
For identifying the priority topics, the following activities were conducted: initially, the model was constructed and the macro topics were identified; then, a search for every topic was carried out in the science direct database to feed the questionnaire of the Delphi round; the Colombian and international experts were identified who responded the Delphi rounds; and the 2020 MOT priority topics were identified.
1.1. Construction of the model.
There are multiple definitions for Management of Technology and this term has evolved with time. Initially, the topic was hardly mentioned in the services sector, but in our days, it is a dominant aspect in the area. The management tools were first based on the creation, measurement and control of atoms and, today, they transcend to uses in intangibles, neurons and bits.
The first initiatives to merge the best practices in engineering and management were defined and developed by the National Research Council (National Research Council, 1987), which identify the county’s priorities, the capabilities of the universities and, above all, the needs of the companies, raising such MOT issues as: Strategic/Long Term Issues related to Technology; Interfunctional Policy Issues related to Technology; Current Research, Development, Engineering and Operations (RDE&O) Issues; and Technology Support Services Issues.
However, Jacques Morin y Richard Seurat (Morin, 1995) defined 3 main functions: optimization, enrichment, and safeguarding (optimiser, enrichir and sauvegarder), and another 3 supporting functions which are: evaluation, inventorying and surveillance (évaluer, inventorier and surveiller). Then again, this model is not relevant to our research, since these verbs are not searchable in the diverse databases and the model is too complex to adapt for a research group.
According to Escorsa and Valls (Escorsa Castells & Valls Pasolla, 2003), “Technology Management is the process of administrating the activities of Research and Development in all its stages: conception of the R&D project, negotiation, team building, project follow-up, results evaluation and technology transfer to the productive sector”. This model clearly covers all possibilities. However, these are very specific activities and don’t permit the widening of the research possibilities, plus the negotiation and transfer subjects are part of the same root.
Additionally, other authors have identified tendencies in the area (Yanez, Khalil, & Walsh, 2010). However, these initiatives have been developed to create or certify MOT programs and not to promote research in this discipline.
Thus, the term Management of Technology has evolved as can be seen in the following chart.
Chart 1 . Activities of Technology Management
Source: Adapted and complimented from (Ávila & Adán, 2007)
However, in their book titled Management of Technology (Erosa & Arroyo, 2007) describe their model of Management of Technology in 5 large components; Management of Innovation, Technology Planning, Technology Transfer, Management of Technical Change and National Technology Policy.
This way, and grouping the topics and seeking the objectives of a research group or a organization in the strengthening of its areas, a model was defined which would allow an easy identification of the topics on the Internet and would totally cover all the functions described by the diverse authors.
The defined model has 5 areas: Technological Forecast, Technology Transfer, Knowledge Management, Science and Technology Policy and Management.
Illustration 1. Model utilized
1.2. Delphi method
“The modern renaissance of futures research began with the Delphi technique at RAND, the Santa Monica, California ‘think tank’ in the early 1960s. The questions of Rand thinkers, at the time, primarily dealt with the military potential of future technology and potential political issues and their resolution.” (Gordon, 1994) For such reason, the Delphi method is relevant, since we pretend to uncover the future of the Management of Technology techniques.
The Delphi method seeks the opinion of a panel of experts to be more correct than the opinions of those who are not, and foster an environment in which the contribution to the study won’t be influenced by the rhetoric, dialectic, or power capacities that some participants might have. For such reason, the participants do not know who else comprises the expert population. Thus, “The Delphi method has the purpose of highlighting opinion convergences and bringing about certain consensus around precise topics, by means of questions to experts through successive questionnaires” (Godet, 2007).
In this study, two rounds were conducted with the panel of experts, conformed mainly by professors and researchers of different university institutions in diverse parts of the world, engaged in or having extensive studies in MOT.
The regulation DELPHI surveys are conducted by identifying priority topics. For this, a thematic tree is prepared of the area of study. This thematic tree was constructed with the vantage point tool, a technological surveillance tool in which a great amount of scientific texts were introduced and, through the bibliometrics process, a thorough analysis carried out by counting key words and their appearance in the consulted databases, the topics related to every area were obtained.
Many of the topics found cover other concepts. Thus, the thematic tree only had a common trunk, MOT, 5 main branches, and the respective leaves, 68 for Technological Forecast, 25 for Technology Transfer, 67 for Knowledge Management, 35 for Science and Technology Policy, and 49 for Management.
In general, 244 topics were identified. However, the use of the 2 Delphi rounds uncovered the most important futures topics in each of the areas.
The first round included 46 experts, listed in the acknowledgement section, 3 undergraduate, 4 specialized professionals, 23 Masters, 14 PhD’s, and 2 post PhD’s who established priority for a total of 106 topics. Illustration 2 lists expert nationalities.
Illustration 2. First Round Panel
In this first round, a Likert scale was used to describe the importance of the topic toward 2020.
-1. I have no knowledge on the topic; 0. It won’t be important; 1. Less important. 2. Medium importance, and 3. Very important.
The topics that were deemed priority in the first round had to fulfill two criteria simultaneously.
The eliminated topics were those that exceeded the average consensus percentage and had a mode lower than 2, meaning that the majority of the experts considered these topics to be of low importance. The experts managed to eliminate the topics of Chart 2 in the first round.
Chart 2. Topics deleted in the first round
The rest of the topics were considered as topics in discussion.
In the second round, the experts were informed of the results obtained in the first round through an executive brief, which allowed them to get acquainted with the answers of the consensus and compare their judgment with it.
Additionally, in the second round the experts were asked to grade the relevance of the new topics proposed in the first round and to give a new answer about the topics that they considered to be priority, justifying their selection in case they were divergent with respect to the group. This round permits the reclassification of priority topics and those in discussion, according to the judgment of each expert.
One condition is that the group of priority topics cannot be expanded, reason by which it is asked that, if a new topic is brought in, another one must be taken out, which is considered to have less importance than the topic to be brought in. This allows the expert to exchange topics.
The conditions given to the experts were the following:
The selection of the priority topics in the round two consisted in identifying which topics were not exchanged. These topics were maintained as priority since round one.
In this second round, 17 national and international experts participated, with the distribution shown in Illustration 3, Expert nationality
Illustration 3. Expert nationality
The education degree of the participants can be seen in Illustration 4, from where it can be concluded that they are largely people with a high degree of education and critical judgment on the topic at hand.
Illustration 3. Education second round panel
Finally, the results obtained in both rounds, with consensus of 100% were the following:
Chart 3. Priority topics second round
The result of this research is a support to define the deepening lines of research groups in technology management, ensuring that they are priority and absolutely relevant themes.
This study will help improve the educational offer in the graduate Management of Technology programs around the world, adding new, more current and relevant knowledge.
Furthermore, the identified topics will help plan the necessary subjects in the future for the support and creation of Management of Technologies doctorates, nor currently available in the country, and very necessary for the near future given the country’s difficulties.
The Pontificia Bolivariana University will host the III International Management of Technology Congress. The organizing committee for this event is already acquainted with the results of the Delphi study and will attempt to use part of those results in the formulation of the tracks that will be included in such event.
In the area of prospective, the most important topics have been the evolutionary theory, systems dynamics and artificial intelligence.
In technological transfer, the topics with greater consensus are the ones related to negotiation and assessment of technology.
In management, the social networks and the cognitive communities are acknowledged.
In scientific and technological policy, a tendency has been discovered in the University-Industry-Government system, the science and technology indicators, and globalization.
And the area of administration identified the topic of technological capabilities and innovation.
The fact that Management of Technology is a transversal subject in diverse areas of knowledge has resulted in the creation of multiple task areas, functions and criteria, which doesn’t allow the subject to be very well defined.
Research in Colombia continues to be an initiative of the few, and specifically, according to the results of studying and what could been found in the literature, those who perform in Management of Technology do so in an applied manner, rather than in an investigative one.
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