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Assistive Technology Transfer Update


Title: Documenting the Process
Author: Richard Baskerville
Published: 2003
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 5 (Spring) Annual Report, 2001-2002

Technology transfer begins either with an idea for applying an existing technology in new ways (supply push), or with an idea for improving the features and functions of an existing product by acquiring an existing technology (demand pull). It ends with a new or improved product available in the marketplace. This process spans a wide range of activity, with much of the initial and final stages thoroughly studied. However the crux of the matter -- the transformation from technology invention to product innovation -- is not well documented or understood.

Dr. Richard Baskerville, Professor at Georgia State University, contends that there are few models of technology transfer that capture the entire process, because most focus on a discrete activity (e.g., invention, patenting, production, distribution). However, there are three models of diffusion that relate to technology transfer - Interactive Model, Linked-Chain Model and Emergent Model. The literature shows that multiple valid models of innovation exist, although each has bounded domains of understanding, and are each most applicable under certain conditions. Dr. Baskerville applied all three models to a specific case, and found that the models embody different perspectives, so each provides different information about the same process.

Dr. Baskerville concludes that researchers should focus on identifying the contingencies that indicate when each model should be applied. Managers should employ all three models to manage the technology transfer/innovation diffusion process, to optimize chances for success. Establishing standard practices, documenting those practices and then conducting internal and comparative evaluations, are all necessary for technology transfer to progress as a discipline. Without them, the field will continue to rely on anecdotal evidence for justification and emulation.

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