DESIGN FOR TRANSFERABILITY
The dimensionalities of engineering design evolved from designing a product that worked, to designing in addition for aesthetics, reliability, maintainability, recyclability, etc. Technology transfer includes three components: the product, the entities interfacing as offeror and offeree, and the transactional framework. This work extends design to new dimension - transferability, i.e., how to improve transfer of technologies by design. Case studies are developed on promising new technologies - the cold chain for biologicals, renewable energy, and wireless access - involving several types of local and global transfers: entrepreneurial technology development, organizational adoption, and mass diffusion; all have implications for dealing with the chaos of the underdeveloped, and complacency of the developed alike. The cases are analyzed using qualitative interpretative techniques (grounded theory) and complemented with contextual data for connecting the substantive findings with industry norms and institutional environment. The simultaneously diffusing technologies considered here seemed to be interrelated and were ushering in (or governed by) a trend characterized by personalization, localization, collectivization, sustainability, and integrating markets enabling actors to remain where they belong, obviating relocation without necessity, for higher capital productivity.
It was found that technology transfer or diffusion can be viewed as building an enterprise consisting of a chain of interactions, with each ending in the offeree's accepting an offer based on the offeror's presentation and creation of conditions favorable to acceptance, which is generally invariant to what is being transferred. In enterprise building the only concern is finding a fit between how an offer is made and how the offeree interprets it. Established networks and hierarchies are therefore utilized; hence each offeree is preconditioned and the interactions are also not random. Further, personalization using real-time situational intelligence helps to incline an offeree. Technologies consequential to one's sense of security diffuse rapidly. Accepting an innovation requires adopters to sense a new need for it; technology diffusion therefore requires many innovations in different areas that only the industry leaders are able to accomplish. For revolutionary technologies, where the associated innovations have far reaching implications, the government may play a key role in their diffusion.
The industry leaders determine how to prepare the market from the overt or covert flows (trends) of the location and of the time. Business is not a cooperative sport; any and every means will be used for enterprise building, for exacting loyalty and for turf management. An enterprise succeeding with an innovation is a planned implementation when the market is ready; the candidates chosen to build an enterprise, and the context that would be conducive to transfer, are matched to the mission so that the success stories resemble other stories people are used to hearing during that era. New entrants who hope that customers would develop a need for their new offerings, or can have a market share if they only matched the market price initially, cannot survive without accommodation by the dominant players. Thus, only the entrepreneur succeeds who has access to the networks that can make the enterprise a success. For the designers, politicians offer valuable resources for learning about technology transfer, who show the new strategies adaptable to organizational management; those acting on the world stage also show the emerging trends. Identification of these trends (flows) enables dimensionality reduction, i.e., reducing design characteristics of a product that will become important to the customers.
Only the dominant players can use the emerging trends to their advantage because they condition the customers to product categories and thereby set the trends for their respective industries (or change them if necessary). Thus, they can reduce the important dimensions even further and select those where they have an existing advantage. The industry leaders also keep abreast of, or actively advance, the strategic military technologies and trends. Thus, a product made by the designer allowing for additions to the offering by its promoter and the value perception of the adopter can be aligned ex-ante to create a seamless whole.
Designing for transferability is possible and design tools exist; however, no design can provide absolute guarantee for success every time. Possibility also does not mean anyone can achieve this; entrepreneurs serve as the industry leaders' probes and starters for establishing a product category. Precedence has enduring advantage; nevertheless global trends are set by the organizations that have ultimate control over institutions.
School:The Ohio State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:innovation technology transfer diffusion organization design product development project planning networking social change
Date of Publication:01/01/2008