Title: Technical effort as a competitive weapon: experiences of Australian firms

Authors: David Challis, Danny Samson

Addresses: Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, 200 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia. ' Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, 200 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia

Abstract: As a platform of operational excellence begins to emerge within Australian manufacturing firms, shortcomings in product, plant and process technology are becoming increasingly transparent. As a consequence, there is a growing interest in rejuvenating firm|s technological bases. This work describes the practices of three leading edge Australian firms in developing a strategic technological capability. The technical management practices of these companies are based on some common principles, which provide both opportunities for learning by others in addition to a practice-driven set of elements deserving further field research. A common element in each of the organizations studied is the desire to integrate three key technical management subsystems: strategic, capabilities and organizational. This managerial perspective is illustrated through a number of practices and characteristics observed within these firms. Specific areas discussed include strategic planning processes, the development of a process management capability, the development of team based work structures, organizational development and restructuring and outsourcing. Key findings include: the value of balanced sets of performance measures, leveraging a safety management program to develop a process management capability, difficulties in aligning the values of technical personnel with the principles of a quality culture and the need to develop approaches to preserve technical capabilities when structural changes are undertaken.

Keywords: technology management; technical function management; best practice; case studies; Australia; manufacturing firms; operational excellence; performance measures; safety management; process management; quality culture; organisational change.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.1996.025485

International Journal of Technology Management, 1996 Vol.12 No.2, pp.126 - 143

Published online: 22 May 2009 *

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