Firm-level transfer of technology : an empirical study of modes of international commercialisation of technology in British industry
The thesis examines the process of technology transfer in British firms. The literature on modes, causes and effects of technology transfer says little about how British firms transfer their technology abroad. A firm-level study was chosen because most international technology transfer happens not between countries but between firms, even if these firms are in different countries. The present research uses data from British industry, which is still one of the major sources of technology in the world and its firms represent an important example of the role of technology supplier. The adopted methodology consisted of a pilot study, conducted through interviews with executives related to technology in six different firms, using a semi-structured questionnaire, and a survey, conducted through a structured mail-questionnaire, sent to British firms which transfer technology overseas. In the light of an extensive literature review and the pilot study, several non-exclusive dimensions of the transfer of technology related to home market, . technology, foreign government policy, firm's attribute and foreign market were identified and an analytical framework was developed, aggregating those dimensions, that were tested through the survey. The findings suggest that two main groups emerged from the sample. One is described as market/investment led. Its firms usually transfer their latest technology, prefer licensing as their main form of going abroad, are more aggressive, impulsive and dynamic and they transfer their technologies independent of their concerns about the consequences that it can bring to them. The other group is described as control/relationship orientated and its firms are more conservative, follow an incremental mode of internationalisation, do not transfer their latest technology and tend to collude with other firms in a foreign market. The decision of the firms on international operations is generally not influenced by characteristics of the home market or the age of technology. Similarly, attributes of the firms do not appear to have a major influence. Foreign government policy is recognised as very important in defining the process of technology transfer and attributes of foreign markets are important enough to motivate firms to go abroad.