Scenario Planning for Technical Knowledge Development

Scenario Planning for Technical Knowledge Development

Maryam Ebrahimi (Azad University, Iran)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3226-2.ch003


Localizing and creating technical knowledge in the developing countries to make them able to compete in the international arena will not be an easy task to undertake as it involves complexities and uncertainties. In this regard, methods of modeling and simulation help understanding the reality and thereby delineating the future. This paper discusses using system dynamics methodology in the Petrochemical Research and Technology Company (Iran). After determining causal loop diagrams, a dynamic model, and validation test, in order to improve the system, related scenarios to the research are proposed. The results show that research financing is a major obstacle in the course of growth and development; accordingly, some scenarios are recommended to increase technical knowledge through raising the initiation and completion rates of research projects. The paper closes with a description of the suggested scenarios.
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Increasingly assumed to be important in every aspect of business life, technology plays a significant role in making strategic decisions to be highly focused on global considerations (Lall, 1993). Meanwhile, industries working in the developing countries are not capable enough to compete with ever evolving modern technologies (Putranto et al., 2003). Moreover, how well firms in the developing countries can take part in the global market depends on their abilities in terms of implementing new technologies and how well they are in reinforcing their knowledge-based competitive advantages (Wang, 1997).

Leonard-Barton (1995) presented a continuum in which the appearance of technological dexterity was seen to be extended from equipment purchase by an acquirer to complete technology transfer. As the first two levels, assembly or turnkey operations and also component adaptation and localization are presumably undertook within the developing countries. According to Marcus (1992), although the owner may not tend to reveal all about a technology, the acquirer attempts to capture as much knowledge as possible, so as to decrease its dependency on the supplier. However, one may note that buying a new machine or implementing a turnkey project does not necessarily provide an acquirer with “a new technology” to be considered as a replacement for technology transfer (Leonard-Barton, 1995). Furthermore, as greater compliance with a set of procedures requires larger deal of know-how, automation does not necessarily result in more effective manufacturing when a technology adapted to local conditions is concerned (Bohn, 1994).

Nevertheless, as the developing countries are not going to remain a follower in their efforts to compete in the international arena, they have to implement their technology policies in terms of product redesign and independent design of products, as the third and fourth levels, respectively. It should be noted that gaining the first-mover advantage according to the redesigned or independently adapted technologies will not be easy for the developing countries. As such, the developing countries have tried to rapidly develop technologies within recent years, i.e. they attempt to develop technical knowledge. This makes them independent of foreign countries, able to generate more money and capital income. Moreover, it improves the quality of life for the people in these nations, and promotes industries; especially oil related ones which comprise a dominant portion of industries in several developing countries.

The present study focuses on technical knowledge development in an Iranian company, namely Petrochemical Research and Technology Company (here after referred to as NPC-RT), working within the research and development sector of the petrochemical industry. With a quick look at the activities done in the company, the importance of technical knowledge is clear and evident; it is, in general, the basis for commercialization process leading to profit generation in a company or industry. Here, technical knowledge refers to knowledge of the petrochemical and chemical synthesis and catalysts obtained by the use of library studies, laboratory investigations and bench scale. Along with this definition, a research system, which deals with multitude complexities and dynamic behavior, consists of all three functions.

In spite of the fact that research is realized and established almost in all organizations, sophisticated and rapidly changing information, knowledge, and technology is the foundation for a vast majority of products and services. Nevertheless, although technology is everywhere, its research and development are still faced with tremendous problems for research and development (R&D) organizations, technology developers and implementers. In this study, system dynamics (SD) methodology is applied to clarify and illustrate the complexities of research system in NPC-RT and after determining causal loop diagrams, a dynamic model, and validation test, in order to improve the system, related scenarios to the research are proposed.

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