Jump to Content
T2RERC  


abstract

introduction

method

status

references


home > research > case studies

R1: Case Studies

Method

 

Research Questions

  1. What are the factors that critically facilitate or inhibit the technology transfer process within and across the cases examined?

  2. Which of the facilitating factors appear to be innovative, particularly for addressing the constraints inherent in the A/T marketplace?

  3. How could RERC's in particular and the A/T industry in general, adopt these innovative factors to improve the technology transfer process?

The T2RERC will answer these three research questions by developing case studies from actual examples of technology transfer, selected from a variety of sectors. We will conduct retrospective case studies to reconstruct the events and actions that led to the successful outcomes. We will also conduct prospective case studies so we can follow the progress of on-going projects and offer our input. To the extent records and participants allow, each case study will reconstruct the planned versus actual actions taken, time and material resources expended, stakeholders involved, barriers encountered and surmounted, and results achieved.

Data Gathering

The Retrospective Case sample will include both RERC and non-RERC projects. All projects selected for retrospective study must have been initiated in the 1998-99 timeframe. We require this five-year time horizon for two reasons. First, moving from development through transfer to market typically requires three to five years. Second, ten RERC's initiated development projects during that 1998-99 timeframe, giving us a convenience sample of projects to study.

Since we seek to learn from innovations appearing anywhere in the field of technology transfer, we will also study a sample of innovative cases from non-RERC programs. These non-RERC cases will be sampled according to protocol established by the "Success Case Method." [6] Again, we will interview project directors who can narrate the sequence of activities and furnish supporting documentation for the case study. We will compensate participants for their time.

Process for Retrospective Cases:

  1. Review the original funded proposal documents to identify project resources (inputs), planned milestones (process), and expected results (outputs). We will seek evidence of innovative methods in the proposal narratives. Documentation supporting Federally funded programs, such as continuation and final reports, will permit us to track project progress.

  2. Plot the available secondary data within the generic model outlined in Section A., including progress on critical events, anticipated and actual milestones, estimates of personnel effort, and expenditures from budget sheets. The data will generate each case study's organization, including the expected and actual inputs, process, and outputs.

  3. Interview project directors to fill in gaps in the narrative and update information. The interview results will be organized according to "Results Mapping," a technique used to capture, structure, score, and analyze the best work accomplished by a given program. [7] The Results Mapping method captures complex attributions where cause/effect events are linked in time and space through connections that overlap and influence each other. Mapping a program's results will reveal the critical factors responsible for successful technology transfers.

  4. Classify the critical success factors according to their perceived effect on transfer progress. For example, human factors design considerations may be identified as a critical success factor. Examining this critical success factor will allow the T2RERC staff to determine if usability testing was conducted during the development phase, when it occurred in the development cycle, if it measured effectiveness, efficiency, and/or user satisfaction, if the testing involved a comparison to existing products, or absolute if the prototype was considered to be novel. We will determine the effect of this factor on the results of each transfer project. Across cases, these critical success factors will form a pool of 'predictor variables' used to inform the on-going RERC projects simultaneously being following in the prospective study group.

  5. Extract the data elements needed to verify the initiating forces (supply push or demand pull), to benchmark effort to progress through the transfer process (estimated by FTE and duration), and to document barriers to successful transfer activities encountered and the steps necessary to overcome them.

  6. The retrospective case studies will be completed in twenty-four months. This considers possible delays in obtaining documentation that might only be accessible through the Freedom of Information Act and time lags in obtaining cross-source verification of specific circumstances involved in each transfer project. The case studies will provide a wealth of information that will allow the T2RERC to better achieve its' mission of providing technical assistance to all RERC's.

The Prospective Case sample will include all RERC development projects commencing since 2000. Technical assistance will be offered at every opportunity, based on the lessons derived from the retrospective case studies. The T2RERC fully intends to be active collaborators rather than passive observers in all phases of the technology transfer process, to fulfill our shared mandate for all RERC's to collaborate with the T2RERC.

Process for Prospective Cases:

  1. Review the original funded proposal documents to identify project resources (inputs), planned milestones (process), and expected results (outputs). We will seek evidence of innovative methods in the proposal narratives. Documentation supporting Federally funded programs, such as continuation and final reports, will permit us to track project progress.

  2. Plot the available secondary data within the generic model outlined in Section A., including progress on critical events, anticipated and actual milestones, estimates of personnel effort, and expenditures from budget sheets. The data will generate each case study's organization, including the expected and actual inputs, process, and outputs.

  3. Interview project directors to fill in gaps in the narrative and update information. The interview results will be organized according to "Results Mapping," a technique used to capture, structure, score, and analyze the best work accomplished by a given program. The Results Mapping method captures complex attributions where cause/effect events are linked in time and space through connections that overlap and influence each other. Mapping a program's results will reveal the critical factors responsible for successful technology transfers.Establish protocol for regularly contacting the project director over the each project's lifespan. The prospective data collection will continue for the full five years to enable the T2RERC to develop a comprehensive technology transfer process.

  4. In addition to documenting each project's progress, the T2RERC will actively seek opportunities to provide training and technical assistance, such as identifying existing market information, sharing known product evaluations, discussing transfer issues with institutional representatives, and providing examples of commercialization packages.

  5. The T2RERC will apply the lessons gained during our retrospective analysis of critical success factors by disseminating the results to the current RERC's.

  6. In the fifth year or as RERC projects are completed/terminated, the T2RERC will verify initiating forces, benchmark effort expended for each step in process, and document the reported the barriers encountered and carriers developed to overcome them.

Data Analysis

The T2RERC will develop six protocols for application across all case study projects. Each protocol will be derived from our internal research evaluation projects and will have the ability to assist us in outlining a systematic approach to the technology transfer process.

  1. Benchmarking protocol to assess efficiency. Benchmarking measures tasks in terms of personnel time assigned, supporting resources expended, and elapsed time from start to finish. Task examples include searching patent records and literature, designing projects, articulating concepts, incorporating technologies, proof of concept prototyping, bench testing and/or clinical trials, protecting intellectual property, and licensing/transfer negotiations.

  2. Outcomes Indicator protocol to track and quantify effectiveness. Outcomes appear at the end of the process pipeline, such as estimates of annual sales in units or revenue, a new/improved product available, an active license with a manufacturer, or a terminated project.

  3. Barriers and Carriers Identification protocol for each case. Examples include the rigor of market validation, intellectual property issues, conflicts in license expectations, quality of commercialization packages, awareness of industry trends, and market analyses.

  4. Regression analysis of Critical Factors. The pool of Critical Success Factors will be used to form a logistic regression model, enabling T2RERC staff to make a statistical determination of the factors most predictive of the dichotomous outcomes variable (i.e., commercialization success/failure). [8]This model will be developed through the retrospective case analyses and tested during the prospective case analyses. The critical factors model will help RERC's assess their resource allocation strategies to improve their commercialization rates.

  5. A Cross-Case Protocol for Identifying Best Practices. The T2RERC will identify factors that consistently optimize the RERC's ability to successfully transfer A/T to the disability community, while overcoming the barriers to this progress.

  6. A Protocol for Identifying Innovations. The innovations in the technology transfer process will be presented in a manner that facilitates review and adoption by other RERC's.

[ Top of Page ]