Failures and Coping Strategies in Indigenous Technology Capability Process
This paper reports on a theory building effort aimed at understanding persistent difficulties with efforts at developing plant-level indigenous technology in a developing country. The firms, having obtained the technology from a donor firm or a laboratory find that implementation and adaptation issues are difficult due to tacit technology knowledge and lack of technical or managerial or market-related systems and experiences. These lead to technological failures referring to situations where serious deviations from expected opportunities and outcomes occur. The failures include loss of entry opportunities, or rejection of technology by the market, or failure at improving processes. With insights offered from 92 organizations in India we identify the different technological failures that occur and ways used to overcome these problems. Exploratory results suggest four major technological failures. (1) Failure due to inappropriate choice of technology leading to longer-than-expected time for establishing production, or inefficient production process, and/or market losses due to poor image of the poorly calibrated product. (2) Failure due to inadequate planning and support for innovation occurs when firms do not invest sufficiently in plant level data collection and analysis, thus missing important avenues for incremental innovation. (3) Failures due to inappropriate processes reveal how short-term orientation and low integration amongst different functional groups thwart the firm’s adaptive and innovative abilities. (4) Finally, failure due to product–market mismatch and inadequate market survey occurs when market desired features are not maintained, or the incorporated changes are not cost effective. The coping strategies adopted by the firms are also discussed.
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