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Strategic Technology Management in a Mid‐corporate Firm: the Case of Otter Controls

Oswald Jones and David Smith

Journal of Management Studies, 1997, vol. 34, issue 4, 511-536

Abstract: This paper examines strategic technology management in the mid‐corporate sector (firms with a turnover between £1 million and £130 million). There is a considerable literature which emphasizes the importance of linking technology and strategy, but this concentrates primarily on the activities of large firms. It is suggested that smaller firms can also benefit from a more strategic approach to technology management and this could help strengthen an area of weakness in the UK economy. The research is based on an in‐depth case study of Otter Controls and utilizes a framework developed by Dodgson and Rothwell to analyse the firm's acquisition of new technologies. It is suggested that this model has utility in examining strategic technology management but the addition of a network perspective helps delineate the ways in which external relationships are established and sustained. The data indicate that universities can be useful sources of technology for smaller firms, but successful transfer is dependent on management skill in creating a culture that is open and flexible. Such firms do have considerable problems in assessing the skills and competences of university departments and this adds to the risks of technology alliances. There is also evidence to suggest that even universities with long‐standing industrial links lack awareness of the problems associated with management in commercial organizations.

Date: 1997
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