23 Feb 2011 2:30pm - 4:30pm CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Alvaro Figueredo (PhD Judge Business School, University of Cambridge)


Social Processes Generic technologies developed collaboratively by university scientists and industry can potentially yield many applications. Many organisations are involved in the process of making them commercially exploitable. The necessary resources, knowledge and capabilities are provided by each actor. Each collaboration contributes to the development of an application, it enables it. But collaborations also impose constrains as well. Particular courses of action are no longer viable because they might affect the interests of an organisation with a vested interest in the technology. Actors who possess a resource key to the development of an application, might become influential as far as decisions over the technology are concerned. If they are affected by a course of action chosen by other members, they will use their ownership of that key resource to influence decisions. Some of those decisions might include markets to be pursued, final shape of artefacts, or conditions under which the key resource will be accessed. With high tech products, very often Intellectual Property (IP) of core materials becomes a key resource, making its owners more influential in the collaboration. Over time, the trajectory of a particular technology becomes the outcome of a complex network of relations between actors, the resources they provide and their evolution over time. This situation results in some generic technologies yielding particular applications and not others out of the whole spectrum of possible outcomes. The above pose great challenges for any actor with an interest in influencing the trajectory of the technology. Managing the process requires a different mindset, leadership, understanding of the network of relationships and ideas protection among other factors. For example, decision making processes require negotiation and bargaining with partners. Leaders need to enable and coordinate efforts rather than controlling people. Complexity and uncertainty make difficult developing strategies, hence requiring constant learning and adjustment. Because of the above, my research focuses on gaining further understanding of the complex sociotechnical processes of collaborative research and development between universities and industry. I have been conducting ethnographical research for the last two years with three groups of scientists of the Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre (CIKC http://www-g.eng.cam.ac.uk/CIKC/ ) who are working on developing flexible and transparent electronics. The end result of my PhD will be a contribution to the management of the network of relations in collaborative R&D. More specifically, how by adequately managing those relationships, actors can influence the trajectory of a generic technology, hence being able to commercialise most of its potential applications.


Open to all. No registration required.

Part of the Science, Technology and Bio-Social Studies Forum (STBS) seminar series. 
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