The internationalisation of the British construction consulting sector and technology transfer in developing countries
The thesis was written against a backdrop of increasing international competition in the construction consulting sector when, at the same time, there was apparent growth in the requirements of developing countries for technology transfer. The opening chapters describe the industry including specific aspects of the British sector. A theoretical review is given on the eclectic theory, the stages of development approach, strategic theory and professional services literature, as well as technology transfer material and empirical studies relevant to the sector. The study itself is based upon a series of personal interviews with a range of construction firms, leading to sixteen cases being compiled, mostly for consulting firms but also for client organisations, aid agencies, contractors and suppliers. The interviews were also used to test hypotheses in four main areas of concern, covering the nature and extent of technology transfer, types of projects and firm, cooperative arrangements and long term implications. There were a number of findings: In construction consulting, technology transfer, consisting mainly of management know-how, is increasingly being required by overseas clients and aid agencies. Technology transfer changes the organisational structure of a firm, due to the greater need for staff at senior levels, with International experience. Newly internationalised firms, often medium-sized, can sometimes by-pass the stages of internationalisation by locating directly in client offices on technology transfer projects; while joint ventures occur, the role of established subsidiary offices is diminishing. Unlike contractors, construction consultants can sustain competitive advantage over time via technology transfer projects; clients can be accessed more effectively at lower cost and market information on new projects can be gleaned more readily. Wider conclusions were also discussed which had relevance for international business theory and policy of host governments and firms alike.