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The Government Role in Civilian Technology: Building a New Alliance
between these two groups involves significant effort. A number of formal mechanisms to facilitate technology transfer and diffusion were mentioned at the workshop. Among the most important were:
Consultation: Scientists often spend a considerable amount of time with product development personnel to help solve product-specific problems. This joint activity provides researchers with a view of product and process engineering that can improve their work once they return to their laboratories.
Transferring expertise: One of the most effective ways to transfer technology is to move the individuals who have specialized knowledge to divisions within a firm. Many corporations use short-and long-term "internships" to transfer research personnel to areas of the company involved in product development, and vice versa.
Joint assignments and projects: Removing the formal barriers between research and development can enhance technology transfer. Toward this end, some companies assign staff to both product development and research activities. Others bring full-time researchers and development engineers together on the same project.
Other important, but less effective, ways of fostering technology transfer include distributing research reports and technical memos to development staff and conducting research seminars and product strategy reviews.
Workshop participants stressed that no single mechanism or approach to technology transfer is adequate alone to meet corporate technology development needs. Technology transfer is a complex, chaotic, and dynamic process that requires constant revision and change as the realities of the marketplace change.2 Following the one-dimensional, "pipeline" view of technology transfer is no longer a viable strategy.3 Several participants stressed that it was management's responsibility to encourage communication between groups within a firm. Management should also attempt to foster an atmosphere in which high-risk, innovative work is encouraged. Similarly, researchers should be shielded, to the extent practical, from short-term demands of the market. Employees who fear failure or delay will not take risks that may be critical to successful R&D projects.
An official at one company noted, however, that technology transfer does not happen just because management demands it or company policy calls for it. Individuals involved in research and product development must be motivated to undertake the steps necessary for successful technology transfer. This official also noted that simply because technology transfer is often a chaotic process, firms should not be discouraged from constructing a plan for achieving it. There must be clear objectives in any transfer strategy, with timetables and frequent revisions of original plans.
One method of stimulating technology transfer discussed at the work