The effect and influence of gatekeepers on technology transfer in Institutes of Technology in Ireland

Owens, Niamh (2012) The effect and influence of gatekeepers on technology transfer in Institutes of Technology in Ireland. PhD thesis, Waterford Institute of Technology.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine whether gatekeepers influence technology transfer within the Higher Education Institute (HEI) sector. It is important to note that the higher education sector in Ireland is known as a binary system of education in that it consists of both universities and Institutes of Technology (IoTs). Both sectors are treated differently in funding allocation and research and innovation. This study chose to research the IoT sector as the majority of literature surrounding technology transfer is written and commented on from a university perspective. A phenomenologist philosophy was employed using qualitative methods. Rice and Matthews (1993) and Duff (1994) stated that incubation centres, within an industry context, were the hub of technology transfer with incubator managers being gatekeepers of the technology transfer process. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect that campus incubation centres and their managers located in the 14 IoTs in Ireland would also be hubs of technology transfer. A sample was obtained of the 15 IoT campus incubation centres using a number of selection criteria. Data were collected for this study through semi-structured interviews with six incubation centre managers. The managers revealed that they did not consider themselves to be gatekeepers of technology transfer but instead identified 23 individuals who they believed were gatekeepers of technology transfer in the IoTs. The semi-structured interviews enabled the researcher to establish information regarding the gatekeepers’ education qualifications, industry experience, network contacts and whether the skills gained had an influence on technology transfer within the IoTs. Based on the interviews with the gatekeepers the researcher decided to interview ten key government officials in various government funding agencies in Ireland as it became apparent that there were some issues regarding the Irish government’s methods of allocating funding to HEIs. A number of important findings emerged from this study. The research identified that individuals identified as gatekeepers in IoTs possessed all the capacities of organisational gatekeepers described by Allen (1977). Furthermore, the research findings confirmed that technology transfer is not just a step-by-step process running from invention disclosures to wealth. In fact, this research has found that the technology transfer process starts with gatekeepers gathering and disseminating knowledge and sharing this knowledge with the academic community. They in turn motivate and inspire academic faculty to file invention disclosures and engage in the technology transfer process. It was also discovered that gatekeepers believed that without their presence in the IoT, technology transfer would not occur. The gatekeepers also believed that the skills gained as a result of their previous experience influenced the technology transfer process. However, from the research findings it emerged that skills gained during their education actually provided gatekeepers with more knowledge transfer capacities than they acknowledged. As mentioned previously Ireland possesses a binary education system consisting of seven universities and 14 IoTs. The university sector is traditionally more successful at obtaining research funding then IoTs. As a result of this, the research found that the allocation of funding by government funding agencies has caused dissatisfaction amongst the IoT sector in particular, towards the metrics used by Enterprise Ireland (EI) to measure technology transfer in HEIs. The gatekeepers believed the funding they received from EI was not adequate and that they were treated differently to universities regarding the level of support received for technology transfer. This research will add to the expanding body of literature on technology ii transfer as it was established that technology transfer required knowledge to be transferred in order to be effective and that knowledge transfer required the existence of individuals to disseminate knowledge in order to be effective. Finally, this study examined of the impact of policies enforced by government funding employees on gatekeepers’ ability to encourage technology transfer in IoTs. Therefore, this study has implications for researchers, policy makers, higher education authorities, government funding agencies in Ireland and individuals engaged in technology transfer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gatekeepers, technology transfer, Institutes of Technologies
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: School of Business > Department of Management and Organization
Depositing User: Derek Langford
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2012 09:58
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:26
URI: http://repository.wit.ie/id/eprint/1738

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