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What is technology management?
What is technology management?
Technology management or management of technology (MOT) can be viewed from many different perspectives since the word technology itself is subject to various interpretations. However, the author of this editorial approaches the topics from different experiences that are associated with different environments and backgrounds. It is hoped that this editorial will present the many facets of technology management. The two words of management and technology not only carry the burden of many different meanings, but also present additional sophistication due the anthropological diversity. To many, MOT means managing engineering and technology. To others, MOT indicates managing knowledge and information, managing research and development, managing manufacture and operation, managing the activities of engineers and scientists or managing the functional activities without concern for the total of activities that encompass the business concepts to commercialization process. According to Gaynor (1996), these interrelated activities must be integrated into a technology system. MOT means not only managing the system, but also managing the pieces, which involves integrating the “pieces” into an acceptable “whole” by focusing attention on the interdependence of the pieces. However, these elaborations are only part of the process of MOT by this editorial.
According to the 1987 workshop report of National Research Council (NRC) of USA, “Management of Technology” is the hidden competitive advantage bridging “the knowledge and practice gap” between science, engineering and business management (Khalil, 2001). Management of Technology (MOT) as a field links “engineering, science, and management disciplines to plan, develop, implement technological capabilities to shape and accomplish the strategic and operational objectives of an organisation.” The NRC report summarises important contributions to industry that management of technology knowledge can make as follows:
How to integrate technology into the overall strategic objectives of organization
How to get into and out of technologies faster and more efficiently
How to assess/evaluate technology more efficiently
How best to accomplish technology transfer
How to reduce new product development time and costs
How to manage large, complex and interdisciplinary or inter-organisational projects/systems
How to manage the organisation's internal use of technology
How to leverage to effectiveness of technical professionals.
To put it in a simple way, technology management is about getting people and technologies working together to do what people are expecting, which is a collection of systematic methods for managing the process of applying knowledge to extend the human activities and produce defined products. Effective technology management synthesizes the best ideas from all sides: academic, practitioner, generalist or technologist.
Significance of technology management
It is argued that there are three major factors strategically in modern organisations that underpin the creation of competitive advantages. The first of these is strategic leadership. The effective leadership ensures that the enterprise will develop itself in the right direction and the production of product will meet the demand of the market. The second factor is having a staff with motivation and empowerment. They are the driving forces of the organisation. The third factor is the proper management of technology. It is important that the company's technology be appropriately and properly managed so as to achieve effective and competitive status (Harrison and Samson, 2003).
Leadership and motivation of employees have been widely recognised as success factors. There have been significant additions to theories and practice regarding improvement in the management of people. Therefore, strategically, the remaining battle-field being competitive depends on proper management of technology. To put it differently, the strategic issue will be how a company could develop, acquire, share and manage technology appropriately and effectively.
It is interesting that this argument has been in congruence with the American historical experience. The USA experienced an increasing global competition which resulted in loss of market share in several industry sectors in the 1970s and 1980s. This became a concern not only to industries, but also to government and educational interests. To identify reasons of the decline in US industrial competitiveness and to formulate a response to the challenges within global competition, serious work and efforts had been contributed in the search for explanations and solutions. Discussions were initiated by major establishments such as The National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Association of Engineering Societies, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, Oak Ridge associated Universities and others. A series of workshops were organised and attended by experts for the discussion of changing paradigms in business and technology. A resulting consensus was that great attention and significant amount of efforts should be directed towards making improvement in the Management of Technology and in conducting research and developing educational programs in this emerging field of knowledge.
Khalil (2001) highlights that efforts to improve the US position in the global economy were being influenced by the understanding that more organisations, including government agencies, high educational institutions, enterprises and founding agencies, become aware of issues involved in the international arena. Today, rapid changes in the technology and business environment continue to occur. These changes require continuous updating of methods and techniques of business practice. For example, measuring the value of a business according to assessment of physical assets or based on traditional accounting or finance formulas are inadequate in the knowledge economy. Education and training institutions need to take into consideration the changing environment in technology and business and respond by changing their programs accordingly. Khalil (2001) argues that international business and engineering schools need to have consideration of incorporating into their curricula educational modules recognizing the importance of the knowledge era and the technology revolution. The intangible assets such as intellectual capital, intellectual properties, service innovation, information technology and many of today's rapidly growing arenas should be recognized. Furthermore, many of the existing models and the traditional programmes need to take into account the appropriateness and effectiveness of technology and innovation as well as the volatilities of the environment in which the technology is created and applied.
In addition, in the twenty-first century, technology assumes a great importance in advancing every aspect of human endeavours. MOT assumes even greater importance in the capacity building of countries, companies and individual to embrace technological changes in order to advance their competitive status in a global marketplace. It has been recognized that the interest in the field of management of technology has mushroomed since the inception of the movement to introduce MOT as a new field of study and research in the 1980s. The application of MOT principles has made a significant impact on the wealth creation ability of the USA and a large number of other countries.
New endeavours in management of technology
It has to be acknowledged that there are a number of endeavours to embrace the challenges that the world is facing in terms of management of technology. The International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT), founded in the early eighties, has become the leading and largest international professional association solely devoted to the promotion of management of technology education, research and application. IAMOT is currently undertaking a major initiative to create guidelines for academic programs in MOT and certification/accreditation guidelines to recognize the quality of academic programs. This promises to be a strong step towards establishing formal management of technology education globally on a sound academic basis.
In addressing the Chinese experience in terms of management of technology, Li-Hua and Khalil (2006) argues that appropriate infrastructures, strategies and mechanism for management of technology needs to be established in order to support the diffusion of management of technology principles throughout China. The conceptual framework for the future direction and needs has been proposed based on the USA research and education experiences over the past two decades. It is debatable whether business and engineering schools need to introduce MOT curricula following the USA model or develop a new model shaped by the Chinese culture. It draws upon the experience of the USA in Management of Technology over the past two decades and projects what may be needed for China to continue its development and economic growth in the future.
It is however evident that current situation in China in terms of MOT presents both opportunities and challenges not only to Chinese business, but also to the Western business. Today, increased levels of competition discussed in this editorial in the wake of China's entry into the WTO have resulted in experimentation and risk-taking as ways of doing business in China. However, the uncertainties and ambiguities prevalent in the Chinese business environment, in particular, in the area of technology management, are neither well understood nor effectively negotiated by the international investment community. In addition, the complexities of technology and knowledge transfer have led to misunderstanding in the operation and the implementation of international joint venture projects in China. Therefore, as to the international investors, China's business environment continues to present many challenges, particularly in how to manage effective business networks and ensure smooth knowledge transfer, especially in international joint venture projects.
In response to these challenges and opportunities, there is an initiative that following the successful launching of Journal of Technology Management in China (JTMC), in late 2005 China Association for Management of Technology (CAMOT) was established (www.camot.org). It is encouraging to the members of CAMOT that it has been agreed that the Journal of Technology Management in China has been granted the official journal of China Association for Management of Technology. Therefore, JTMC is an official academic outlet for the members of CAMOT.
CAMOT is an international organization committed to encouraging and supporting researchers and professionals who are engaging research in management of technology in China. CAMOT aims to establish national, regional, and international collaborative research programs in the field of technology management, technology innovation, technology transfer as well as knowledge transfer by engaging government agencies, funding agencies, educational institutions, state-own enterprises (SOEs) as well as private sectors in China. CAMOT stresses the importance of keeping-up with the fast pace of technological change and the emerging new global paradigms of the business environment. MOT is an important strategic instrument to improve competitiveness and create prosperity in China. CAMOT believes that a need to address the existing gaps in the process of technology management, which will assist in implementing more sustainable arrangement for successful technology transfer and development. The vision of CAMOT is to inspire excellence for management of technology and promote the appropriate diffusion of management of technology principles throughout China.
Finally we wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to the members of Editorial Board, members of Editorial Advisory Board, and those who reviewed papers for JTMC Volume 1, Issue 1, 2, 3 and Volume 2, Issue 1, which we are presenting to you now.
Further readingKhalil, T. (2000), Management of Technology: The Key to Prosperity and Wealth Creation, McGraw Hill, New York, NY.www.emeraldinsight.com/jtmc.htm
Dr Richard Li-HuaEditor of Journal of Technology Management in China, and the founder and current President of China Association for Management of Technology. Richard Li-Hua can be contacted at: email@example.com
Gaynor, G.H. (1996), Perspectives on Management of Technology Handbook of Technology Management, The Mcgraw Hill Companies, New York, NY.
Harrison, N. and Samson, D. (2003), Technology Management, Tsinghua University Press/Mc Graw Hill Education, Beijing/New York, NY.
Khalil, T. (2001), Future Direction and Needs in the Management of Technology Management of Technology: The Key to Prosperity to the Third Millennium, PERGAMON An Imprint of Elsevier Science, Amsterdam.
Li-Hua, R. and Khalil, T. (2006), “Technology management in China: a global perspective and challenging issues”, Journal of Technology Management in China, Vol. 1 No. 1.