1 Knowledge Management in International Technology Transfer 1 Nazmun Nahar 1, Zuhair Al-Obaidi 2, Najmul Huda 3 1 Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland 2 Department of International Business, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland 3 Department of Information Processing, Tallinn Technical University, Tallinn, Estonia Abstract-The research empirically explores how knowledge transfer is managed within firms by using modern information technologies (ITs) and the problems which are encountered. The results indicate that the utilization of ITs has allowed companies to store, share and distribute knowledge; facilitated worldwide collaboration; and facilitated rapid international technology transfer. I. INTRODUCTION Businesses are operating in a knowledge-intensive environment. Knowledge is one of the most important organizational assets [17, 18, 34, 36, 42, 44, 48, 49, 51] for operating in such an environment. Unique knowledge can improve organizational performance significantly [34-36] and contribute to competitive advantage. Knowledge management is essential for operating successfully in a knowledge intensive environment. Effective knowledge management can facilitate quick access to current and accurate knowledge that is needed to perform various tasks, can improve decisions, and allow sharing of organizational knowledge throughout the organization [10, 15]. Knowledge management activities and strategies have been categorized in the literature in different ways. Examples include Generation, Codification and Transfer; Create, Identify, Collect, Organize, Share, Adapt and Apply ; and Codification and Personalization . In this study, knowledge management refers to the IT supported systematic process that allows an organization to create, capture, share and use both tacit and explicit knowledge to achieve organizational objectives by improving organizational performances. Companies attempting to execute international technology transfer need knowledge from diverse areas such as product technology, process technology, and know-how relating to project management, operation and problem solving. They also need to plan and perform a variety of activities to implement the technology transfer process [2, 33, 34, 36]. In this research the technology transfer process is conceptualized as the integrated and organized set of decisions, arrangements and activities that build on each other, and where each of these sets takes one or more input to create the desired transformation in capabilities to bridge the technological gap between a technology supplier and a recipient . Quite often the results of international technology transfer projects are very unsatisfactory [13, 26, 30, 46, 47, 57]. Managing the achievements of a technology transfer project objectives is a complex endeavor [27, 33, 34, 53, 58] mainly because of the gap in tacit knowledge between the partners and the differences in the environments of the technology receiving country and technology supplying country. Effective knowledge management in international technology transfer (ITT) can improve the technology transfer process efficiency and effectiveness. Furthermore, knowledge management in international technology transfer is quite complex because the technology transfer project is implemented in a developing country /an emerging economy, while the knowledge contributors to this project are located in the industrialized countries. Empirical research indicates that acquisition of technology does not necessarily lead to acquisition of technological knowledge and capability in many ITT projects . Current developments in information technologies can help in reducing some of the difficulties [34-36]. The increased processing power of computers and a variety of advanced software are speeding up the creation of knowledge through the analysis and organization of raw data. Convergence of computing and communication technology is speeding up the dissemination of knowledge [34-36]. In addition, integration of executive information systems [39, 52] with Intranet [19, 21], Extranet [8, 34, 54], groupware [32, 33, 35] and enterprise resource planning 1 Nahar, N., Al-Obaidi, Z. and Huda, N. (2001). Knowledge Management in International Technology Transfer. In D.F. Kocaoglu, T.R. Anderson, D.Z. Milosevic, T.U. Daim, K. Niwa, T.R. Gulledge, C. Kim & H. Tschirky (Eds.) Technology Management in the Knowledge Era. IEEE and PICMET, Oregon, USA, pp IEEE ISBN: & PICMET ISBN:
2 [14, 36] enables managers to share information with others throughout the distributed business environment. Although the need for improvements and the contribution of knowledge management have been recognized no research has been undertaken in this area. Al-Obaidi s  research indicated that companies engaged in ITT have been using IT tools to control the technology transfer process, but did not research the methods they used to achieve that. Nahar s [34-36] earlier research indicated that high-tech companies from advanced industrialized countries are using various advanced multimedia IT tools and global networks (such as Interactive multimedia training utilizing DVD and CD, computer based simulation software, Web-based training, multimedia Extranet, feedback through e- mail communication, and tele and video conferencing technologies) to transfer new, advanced and complex knowledge and skills to developing country companies as well as emerging markets, but did not investigate the knowledge management issue of these international technology transfer efforts. To fill this gap, the present research has been undertaken. The main research problem of this study has been identified as: how can new information technology facilitate knowledge management in international technology transfer process? A. Technology Transfer and Knowledge Management II. LITERATURE REVIEW Technology has been viewed as a composite phenomenon that includes a variety of systematically and purposefully interlinked physical and intellectual processes embodied in physical objects (such as tools and machines) or in human beings (such as engineers and technicians). The applied knowledge concerning physical processes is usually related to product or process technologies. The intellectual processes are related to knowing how to perform a task or how to handle a machine. Thus, for example, the skills and expertise of how to install, operate, maintain, repair and benefit from tools and machines are technical know-how [1, 2]. In most cases the transfer of technology requires the transfer of knowledge related to physical process contained in physical elements (e.g. computer) as well as the know-how related to operating them. Know-how in the context of ITT is applied knowledge and shares many of the characteristics of knowledge (see Section B). Knowledge is commonly classified into explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge . Explicit knowledge is codified in blueprints, designs, diagrams and specifications, etc. Explicit knowledge is relatively easy to codify and therefore with relative ease it can be transferred to others with the support of information technology . Whereas, tacit knowledge is usually either difficult to codify or non-codifiable [22, 37]. Polanyi was the first one to introduce the concept of tacit knowledge. As expressed by the famous statement, we know more than we can say [40, 41]. Thus tacit knowledge is difficult to communicate to others and requires intensive human contact and interaction. Antonelli  observed that because information technology has very limited capacity to transfer tacit knowledge, it has been mainly used to transfer explicit knowledge. Knowledge also has been categorized in various other ways (for example, [23, 25]). In technology transfer, the technology which is transferred often contains tacit and explicit types of knowledge [35, 36]. Therefore, in our study, the classifications of explicit and tacit knowledge are suitable. Commonly IT researchers have dealt with management of explicit knowledge, this study deals with both tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. B. Technology and Technology Transfer In this research, we conceptualize technology and technology transfer as understood by the main stream research literature on technology transfer [2, 34, 36, 43]). Thus technology is defined as a system of applied knowledge (tacit and explicit), expertise, skills and processes which combine inputs that enhance the conception, production, operating and marketing and management (business) capabilities of the firm . Technology transfer is conceptualized as a learning and developmental process rather than as the movement of physical artifacts. It is the process of communicating and transmitting technology to enhance the capability of the receiver through absorption and use. Researchers [2, 55] contend that this process has four major dimensions: content, communication, context and consequences which determine the various activities that compose the process. Academics as well as consultants have suggested that intellectual capital can be managed successfully when an infrastructure for knowledge management is developed [11, 12]. Developments in information technology have made it possible to store, edit and transfer large quantities of such knowledge as well as made it available for technology transfer partners who are separated by both time and space around the world . Earlier empirical research findings of [34-36] indicated that new information and communication technologies can eliminate barriers of distance, time and geography and can
3 facilitate communication, coordination, collaboration and knowledge sharing between technology suppliers of industrialized countries and technology recipients in developing countries. When a dynamic technology transfer knowledge depository is created the technology supplier can then give access to those involved to benefit from it. Knowledge of a person or a group of persons could be shared through the computer networks while executing the activities of international technology transfer process. The common activities of the international technology transfer process [2, 3, 9, 24, 28, 33-35, 43, 50] which incorporate knowledge and facilitate knowledge management include: International market research for technology transfer Selection of a technology recipient Identification of the recipient s technological need Selection of technology for technology transfer Negotiation and contract Implementation and commissioning of the technology transfer project Evaluation. III. FIELD STUDY We have been investigating international technology transfer in general for several years. However, we have been investigating and exploring IT supported international technology transfer since The IT supported international technology transfer process is composed of several phases and a variety of issues. Since limited empirical research in the area of knowledge management in technology transfer has been done, and in order to gain an in-depth understanding of this phenomenon, a qualitative case study method was utilized to execute the research project. The study focused on high-tech companies which have transferred technologies through the IT support to several developing countries and emerging economies. The interviews were conducted at several stages. The initial interviews were open-ended, and the questions asked included: In which phases of the IT-supported international technology transfer process, knowledge was stored, shared, distributed and utilized? How tacit and explicit knowledge was stored, shared, distributed and utilized in each of these phases of an IT supported technology transfer process? Which problems were encountered in storing, sharing, distributing and utilizing the tacit and explicit knowledge in the major phases of the IT-supported technology transfer process? The initial open-ended interviews gave us the necessary data for designing a more focused interview guide for the later stages. Six to eleven knowledgeable informants who participated in the technology transfer project were interviewed face-to-face from each company. Each interview lasted about two hours. Further investigations were conducted by using a variety of electronic tools, such as conferencing tools, s, etc. Five case companies were investigated in-depth. This study followed the following steps for qualitative data analysis: data reduction, data display, comparison across the case companies, and conclusion drawing . Several measures including triangulation were used to enhance the validity and reliability of the study, the major ones include: questions were tested, secondary data was checked and answers were verified [45, 56]. IV. CASE ANALYSIS We investigated knowledge management in international technology transfer of five case companies and analyzed them. Here we investigate and analyze how knowledge has been stored, shared, distributed and utilized in various phases of an IT supported technology transfer process of FORTUM POWER ENGINEERING (FPE), i.e. we are describing in detail how one case company conducted knowledge management in international technology transfer process. The section begins with a discussion on the technology supplier s background and its technology transfer to Hungary. Then, the storing, sharing, distributing and utilization of knowledge in the major phases of the IT-supported technology transfer process have been analyzed.
4 A. Technology Supplier s Background FPE, a Finnish multinational, is the largest in the Nordic countries in the turn-key delivery of energy production and transmission systems, including project management, construction, planning, design and consulting. FPE s computer-aided power engineering facilitates efficient planning process, reliable and cost efficient operations [5, 6]. FPE puts high emphasis on R&D on a continuous basis. Due to its extensive international experience and effective R&D, it has been able to supply innovative technological solutions. FPE is conducting businesses in Western Europe such as Germany, the UK; Eastern Europe such as Poland, Russia; North America such as the USA; Asia such as China, Malaysia, and Thailand as well as Africa. By adopting modern ITs, FPE is improving its business processes on a continuous basis [4, 5]. B. Technology Transfer to Hungary FPE scans for business opportunities around the world. Due to the privatization of energy sector in Hungary one such opportunity appeared for FPE. Hungarian government privatized one state owned power sector engineering company in FPE bought a part of the company and FPE transferred its latest technology and upgraded the technology of the Hungarian company. The enterprise is located in Budapest, Hungary and is called ETV-Eröterv Rt. There are several old technology based power plants in Hungary. ETV-Eröterv Rt. is upgrading them, making them safer and improving their performances. FPE s technology transfer to Hungary has improved the competitiveness of the technology recipient, and ensured its survival in a liberalized and competitive market place. ETV-Eröterv Rt. is continuously acquiring technology to offer innovative and competitive solutions to Hungarian customers. C. Knowledge Management in the IT-supported Technology Transfer Process of FPE FPE s top management heavily invests in information systems on a regular basis to redesign and improve the business processes, enhance the IT infrastructure and applications for sharing and distribution of knowledge. FPE s IT infrastructure is very developed. It has successfully linked up its business units around the world by deploying modern technologies in them. Its top management encourages IT supported knowledge sharing. Due to the advanced networked IT infrastructure, FPE has been able to collaborate and share knowledge among the participants of international technology transfer projects and other stakeholders around the world. One interviewee described FPE s usage of IT in technology transfer: IT is supporting at our all processes in technology transfer. IT is helping to perform various tasks effectively and efficiently. Another interviewee stated: Extranet and video conferencing have allowed us to collaborate with experts around the world and share their expertise in our technology transfer processes. Another interviewee stated: Some of our technology managers previous learning experiences have been captured, organized and stored on the computer network. This knowledge database contains best practices, problems encountered, innovative solutions, etc. This database is shared globally with all technology transfer managers. We use these knowledge all through the technology transfer process. We describe here those phases of IT-supported technology transfer process which utilized the knowledge storing, sharing, distribution and utilization. Some of the phases were executed concurrently. International Market research for Technology Transfer FPE monitors opportunities in the energy sector around the world. In 1995, Hungary privatized its energy sector very actively. FPE identified Hungary as an attractive market by investigating various factors, such as demand
5 in the market, condition of the national economy, industries which use lots of power, availability of different kinds of fuels inside the country, political situation, crises, climate, availability and the technical skills of the labor. In order to investigate the above issues, FPE used its own databases and the information that were already collected by its information center, or other employees organized and stored then in the computers. The Market Research Manager described: Our information service center is equipped with advanced ITs and well trained employees, they have access to energy specific databases, online journals, and international newspapers. They search for information by putting specific key word, they collect the information, organize them, store them in the Web-based databases which our decision makers around the world can get access to quickly. The decision makers can make improved decisions quickly. FPE is storing, sharing and distributing the market knowledge through its network globally. The findings support that IT enhances knowledge management activities of storing, sharing and distributing of knowledge. One interviewee stated that earlier: It had been very time consuming to conduct market research, now due to these technologies it is much faster and convenient. FPE s IT-supported market research is faster and more effective than the traditional approach. Earlier empirical research of [34, 35] indicated that IT improves the performance of international market research for technology transfer. Earlier, before the advent and advances in IT tools FPE used mainly published materials. Currently, FPE is using the following IT tools and services to conduct market research for technology transfer: Web, published material on CDs, online databases, Financial Times online services to look for different interviews or different articles published about the markets, mailing lists and newsgroups. The tools allow investigating and analyzing the various factors (e.g. demand for energy, economic situation, etc.) related to energy market. Selection of a Technology Recipient FPE s earlier research revealed that it needed a partner in the Hungarian market in order to establish and enhance its presence there. By investigating the following factors, FPE identified the Hungarian company to be very attractive as a partner which includes: line of business (means in the same business), technological level, the local knowledge, financial resources and access to potential customers. In order to investigate the above issues FPE used the following procedures as stated by one employee: Online databases, other electronic tools and services, and traditional methods are offering a great amount of data about the prospective technology recipients. We are capturing them, analyzing them, making the customer profile and storing them in the databases. We followed the same procedure in the case of Hungarian partner. Intranet and database allow to share this customer related knowledge by the decision makers around the world. FPE is capturing, analyzing, storing, sharing and distributing the customer knowledge through its own network globally. The findings support that IT enhances knowledge management activities of capturing, analyzing, sharing and distributing of knowledge. FPE also used external consultants (located in Hungary), and face-to-face questioning to investigate the characteristics of the technology recipient. FPE conducted a feasibility study and risk analysis by using IT tools developed by itself. Risk assessment tool - MS Excel-based tool is used when they prepare the bids. Risks such as customer risks; technological, political and financial risks; currency risk; inflation risk; and cost over run risk were analyzed. According to the Market Research Manager, FPE is currently using the following IT tools and services to identify and select suitable technology recipients: Web, , published material on CD, company internal databases, power plant databases, online databases, Financial times online services, Intranet, teleconferencing, mailing lists, and newsgroups. The tools allow investigating and analyzing the technology recipient related factors (e.g. line of business, financial condition, etc.). It has also developed global systems, which contain information of prospective technology recipients and ongoing technology transfer projects. The system also contains information useful for marketing and sales. This
6 system is now working globally. It also uses different service companies who are providing information through e- mail. After conducting in-depth investigations, the market research team prepares a neutral company profile of the prospective technology recipient and put it on the Intranet which its decision markers around the world can access to it quickly. The decision makers use the company profile and draw the conclusions. By using all the above mentioned tools, FPE can rapidly conduct further investigation of the prospective technology recipients. It also saves money from travelling. FPE s IT-supported technology recipient selection is faster and less expensive than the traditional approach. Identification of the Recipient s Technological Needs FPE made an in-depth investigation of the technical skills of the technology recipient s employees, available technologies and their characteristics, and the needs of the technology recipient. FPE s employees visited the Hungarian company and conducted in-depth interviews. One interviewee stated: We interviewed several people of the recipient. Most of them did not know what their actual need was. Through in-depth investigations and interviewing, we tried to figure out their wants, their needs and so on. If the technology transfer is to be successful both the technology supplier and the recipient should know each other s needs. Due to low penetration of s and video conferencing in the technology recipient at that time, FPE was not able to utilize ITs a lot to investigate what are the existing technologies utilized by technology receiving company, and the technological capabilities of its employees. Currently, FPE uses , and teleconferencing to identify technological needs of the recipients. Selection of Technology for Technology Transfer Having examined the recipient s needs, FPE investigated the detailed profile-database of its employees of various business units, identified the suitable people with needed expertise, communicated with them through , fax and telephone. Finally, through a face-to-face meeting it identified suitable people. Especially, the databases and made the selection of appropriate people with needed expertise quick. The findings are in accordance with Nahar s  earlier research findings that IT allows to locate suitable technical personnel for international technology transfer quickly. Currently, FPE uses databases, teleconferencing, video conferencing, and to identify technology for transfer and suitable people from its units around the world efficiently. Negotiation and Contract FPE s employees traveled to Hungary and conducted face-to-face negotiations. These negotiations finally culminated into a contract document. The contract contained articles relating the content, context, communication and consequences aspects of the technology transfer process. Basically, these articles contain rules and conditions pertaining to what to transfer and how as well as the legal and contractual aspects of the business deal. Usually, each negotiation for technology transfer continues for several months, during which further negotiation is conducted. Usually during the negotiation and even afterwards certain questions or problems arise for which FPE uses s and teleconferencing. Currently, is used extensively to conduct preliminary negotiations and deliver related information. FPE is also using PC based video conferencing to conduct negotiations with the technology recipients who are already FPE s customers. Implementation and Commissioning of the Technology Transfer Project In this phase, several functions were performed some of them executed chronologically, while others were executed concurrently.
7 IT Infrastructure and IT skills of the technology receiving company: FPE s IT experts identified the same type of computers, software programs for Hungarian company which FPE has here in Finland and also developed the same kind of IT infrastructure, and fixed the lines. For example, telephone lines, made easier to access to FPE s IT resources and transfer data. FPE encouraged local people to participate and play greater roles to IT project development. Through cooperation and control FPE made Hungarian people to work according to FPE s specifications. Key features of the technology receiving organization s (i.e ETV- Eröterv Rt. s) IT infrastructure include: TCP/IT based Ethernet network Unix file and printer servers to share resources across the network Windows NT server for applications MS Office software package PC based video conferencing systems supported by an ISDN connection A variety of engineering IT tools, such as AutoCAD, AutoVision, OmegaCAD, etc. Remote users can dial to the network with SLIP (serial line Internet protocol) or PPP (point -to-point protocol). FPE sent IT experts to Hungary to train the employees. Training of Hungarian IT personnel was partly done in Finland. Hungarian IT personnel traveled to Finland to get training for two weeks. IT infrastructure of FPE ETV-Eröterv Rt. is upgraded continuously. FPE sends an upgraded version of IT tools as well new IT tools stored on CDs to ETV-Eröterv Rt. on a continuous basis. ETV-Eröterv Rt. has also been downloading, and installing software from FPE s Web server for sometime. Preparing the technology package: Technology package refers to the various technological components being offered by the supplier to the technology recipient in order to enhance the later technological capabilities and contribute to solving his technology related deficiencies or problems. Quite often communicating elements of this package encounter problems related to tacit aspects of knowledge. One interviewee stated: Through the video conferencing and using other ITs we are sharing company internal and external tacit and explicit knowledge during the development process of the required technology. Another interviewee stated: Video conferencing and Extranet have allowed us to develop virtual research teams with the research laboratories around the world and share tacit and explicit knowledge. FPE developed the technology package in collaboration with its research laboratories, engineering units and subcontractors by using a variety of ITs considering the needs of the recipient. The technology package that FPE transferred to Hungary included engineering systems, quality systems, administrative systems, marketing and sales systems and also the know-how of producing the service. The technology package was composed of similar tools and processes which were used in Finland. One interviewee mentioned about the characteristics of the technology: We transferred the latest technology that FPE is using here in Finland. Due to already existence of technology inside the Hungarian company we needed to adapt our technology. FPE has been continuously transferring technologies to Hungary. It has and data communication link there, so employees of FPE send which includes new designs, new processes, etc. ETV-Eröterv Rt. also uses databases which include new innovations such as new product designs, new manufacturing methods, etc. Above findings exhibit that ITs facilitate transfer of tacit knowledge. The findings do not support that information technology has very limited capacity to transfer tacit knowledge, information technology is limited to the transfer of explicit knowledge . Upgrading the existing power engineering facilities: The technology recipient was performing energy engineering works previously. Its technologies were old. FPE upgraded the existing power engineering facilities to reach the same level of functionality that FPE has in Finland.
8 During upgrading FPE used computerized project management software which included project managerial system and time scheduling system. Recruiting and training: ETV-Eröterv Rt. recruited young employees having education of modern technologies. FPE has also used a multifunctional advanced process simulator (MAPS) for the training of Hungarian employees in the following areas: process and automation design, developing operation procedures, safety analysis, developing emergency operations procedures, accident analysis, project management issues, financial analysis and modelling, etc. One interviewee stated: MAPS facilitates intensive and effective training of our very complex power engineering technology. The simulator has versatile functions to analyze and repeat exercises. The trainees maintain very close interactions with the instructors and other trainees by using various electronic tools. In this way we are transferring both tacit and explicit knowledge. The above findings demonstrate that ITs facilitate transfer of tacit knowledge. The findings do not support the claim that information technology has very limited capacity to transfer tacit knowledge, and that its use is limited to the transfer of explicit knowledge . FPE also has been using several other IT tools to train the Hungarian employees they include interactive multimedia training utilizing CD, computer based simulation software, multimedia Extranet, and video conferencing. FPE delivers upgraded versions of various IT tools to ETV-Eröterv Rt., usually these software are stored on CD-ROMs since these are quite large. FPE also delivers CDs with training materials to ETV-Eröterv Rt. continuously. The Hungarian customer is using ISDN. This arrangement is quite slow and costly for FPE, therefore, it can not use it extensively. Problems in both the speed and the cost of data communication. Also the quality of the picture is not good enough in some situations. Various factors have hindered knowledge sharing between the technology supplier and the technology recipient, they include: low bandwidth of communication lines, high telecommunication expenses, underdevelopment of some IT tools, low IT education level of Hungarian workers and weak in English language. Evaluation Throughout the technology transfer process, the technology supplier is interested in monitoring the outcome of each step as well as the consequences of the technology transfer. This includes issues such as the performance of the technology, identification of any problems, their causes and possible means to check them. Information feedback is needed to ensure that the technology transfer proceeds as expected . One interviewee stated the evaluation process in the following way: We examined which goals had been achieved, what were the deviations, what caused these deviations, etc. We discussed and made in-depth analysis of the problems, changed technical drawings and tested the proposed solutions. At present, ETV-Eröterv Rt. uses heat power software which is connected to FPE s network in Finland. In this way FPE can monitor what they are doing over Hungary. Heat power software collects the data, the experts share these data and examine the problem collaboratively. FPE also uses teleconferencing and video conferencing to solve some problems collaboratively that are encountered in ETV-Eröterv Rt., thereby reducing time requirements. This method is faster and less time consuming than traveling to the recipient s location for evaluation of the operations and to hold meetings. The finding supports the earlier research findings of  and  that ITs allow to collaborate with experts around the world to solve difficulties that are encountered. Currently, FPE has very close communications with Hungary and conducting voice communication through data communication systems from Finland. This enables both parties to have a longer teleconferencing in groups and solve various problems. ETV-Eröterv Rt. was a pure engineering company at the beginning. Through the continuous technology transfer over a long period of time, FPE has transformed that company to sell also turn-key packages for projects.
9 V. RESEARCH FINDINGS We investigated five case companies in-depth. Through the cross-case analysis we find out that companies have been sharing and transferring tacit and explicit knowledge in international technology transfer process. The major findings include: The technology suppliers have put a great amount of knowledge in international technology transfer, including learning experiences of previous technology transfer projects in Web integrated databases which can be accessed to and shared by technology transfer project managers around the world. The findings are consistent with Nahar s [34-36] earlier empirical research findings that the technology transfer project managers extensively use technology transfer related Web technology based databases along with other advanced IT tools and global networks to get access to knowledge base in order to provide a continuous and effective support in the execution of technology transfer process. The companies are collaborating with other research centers through video conferencing. Senior and junior researchers are collaborating in the same projects, sharing tacit and explicit knowledge globally and developing the required technology. The findings do not support that information technology has very limited capacity to transfer tacit knowledge, information technology is limited to the transfer of explicit knowledge . Our findings however support Al-Obaidi s  research findings that IT tools are used by firms in particular in their control efforts. Our findings of this research also support Nahar s [34-36] earlier findings that IT enhances collaboration, knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer on a worldwide basis avoiding geographical, time and cultural barriers. By using a variety of electronic tools such as interactive multimedia training utilizing DVD and CD, computer based simulation software, multimedia Extranet and video conferencing companies are maintaining very close interactions with the trainees and delivering tacit and explicit knowledge. The findings also do not support that information technology has very limited capacity to transfer tacit knowledge. However, the research findings [34-36] indicate that multimedia IT tools and global networks allow companies to transfer new and complex knowledge to technology recipients located various parts of the world. The present research suggests that firms have used the above IT tools and developed a dynamic technology transfer knowledge depository system to which access can be gained and from which knowledge is obtained to facilitate technology transfer. The detailed nature of this depository is not investigated in this research. Fig. 1 illustrates the building blocks of international technology transfer knowledge management. It indicates that within the ITT process various types of knowledge is required for successful implementation and that access to such knowledge can be valuable when the needed infrastructure is developed in the form knowledge depository system. The companies have developed virtual teams of (company internal and external) experts connected through Extranet, teleconferencing, video conferencing, Internet-based telephone service and mobile computing systems, who respond quickly and solve complex problems encountered by the technology recipients. These IT tools save the time and expenses associated with overseas travelling, allow for accurate decisions to be taken quickly and facilitate faster problem solving. The technology recipients have implemented advanced computer networks and are using a variety of tools to gain access to assistance and advice from experts around the world and also to gain access to online databases to solve any encountered difficulties in the technology transfer project. The findings support the earlier research findings of  and  that IT increases the capacity in accurately reporting outcomes, problems, and assist in solving the problems rapidly through the guidance of remote experts located in different parts of the world. The findings are also consistent with the earlier research findings of  and  that the computer networks of the technology suppliers allow the technology receiving organizations to gain access, share knowledge with the technology suppliers, and allow getting technical support on an ongoing basis. This exploratory study identified the major factors that produced success to the knowledge management in ITsupported technology transfer process, they include: strong support from top management, high investments in ITs and enhancement of the IT infrastructure and applications for sharing and distribution of knowledge, and conducive culture for knowledge sharing. This exploratory study also identified the key factors which are causing barriers to knowledge management in IT supported technology transfer process, they include: low bandwidth of communication lines, high telecommunication expenses, under development of some IT tools, such as video conferencing, low IT education level of the employees of the technology recipients, and weak in English language.
10 Technology Transfer Knowledge Depository Technology Supplier (Transferrer) Technology Transfer Process Technology Recipient (Transferee) Recipient s needs Recipient selection Search and feasibility Evaluation Implementation of technology transfer project Negotiation and contract Technology selection Content Context Communication Consequences Fig. 1. Building blocks of international technology transfer knowledge management (Integration of findings of this research with the research results of Al-Obaidi ) VI. CONCLUSIONS The IT-supported technology transfer is targeted to improve the performance of technology transfer. The performance depends on the use of appropriate knowledge. The study investigated knowledge management in technology transfer by using a multiple case study method. The results indicate that the utilization of ITs has allowed companies to store, share and distribute knowledge in various phases of IT supported technology transfer process. IT has facilitated to locate validated knowledge quickly, facilitated better and faster decision, made easier to locate people with needed expertise, helped to develop market profile quickly, assisted to develop technology
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