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Distinguishing between knowledge transfer and technology transfer activities: the role of key organizational factors

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2 Author(s)
S. Gopalakrishnan ; Sch. of Manage., New Jersey Inst. of Technol., Newark, NJ, USA ; M. D. Santoro

Knowledge transfer and technology transfer are often used interchangeably and while both knowledge transfer and technology transfer are highly interactive activities, they serve different purposes. Knowledge transfer implies a broader, more inclusive construct that is directed more toward understanding the "whys" for change. In contrast, technology transfer is a narrower and more targeted construct that usually embodies certain tools for changing the environment. Grounding our work in the 7-S framework, we examine the role of key organizational factors in facilitating knowledge transfer and technology transfer activities. Survey data for this study were collected from 189 industrial firms representing 21 different industrial sectors. Results show that there are differences in the types of firm structures, cultures and university policies for intellectual property rights (IPR), patent ownership, and licensing that facilitated knowledge transfer activities compared to those that facilitated technology transfer activities. Specifically, firms with more mechanistic structures and more stable direction-oriented cultures were associated with higher levels of knowledge transfer. Conversely, firms with more organic structures, more flexible change-oriented cultures, and more customized university policies for IPR, patent ownership, and licensing were associated with higher levels of technology transfer. The firm's trust in its university research center partner was equally important for both activities. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for future research and management practice.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 1 )