Technology Management Challenges for a Sub-supplier in the Aerospace Industry
Paper in proceedings, 2007
Customers of the aerospace company studied act primarily as system integrators today. This means that the company studied is expected to take full responsibility for a component or sub-system, including developing new innovative technologies within their specializations. For a supplier, the global trends and general expectations of the industry may be reasonably clear, but how this should be translated to technology development is not necessarily a clear-cut process. This includes anticipating market trends, how the customers of the company are positioning themselves in relation to global trends and regulations, the overarching system architecture that could be chosen by an aircraft supplier, and various forms of possible collaboration driven by market forces and political arrangements. The difficulties for a company acting as a sub-supplier under these uncertain circumstances, to propose a logical and solid technology strategy are obviously not easily managed. This paper reports a case study on how selected aspects of technology management interact and how they shape the development and decision making processes within a particular company acting as component supplier in the aerospace sector.
To explore the management of technology, focus group interviews were used. A total of seven groups were interviewed for approximately two hours each. For the composition of these groups, a purposeful homogeneous sampling strategy was chosen to find the people with the greatest insight on this topic and to focus on the variation in perspectives of internal organizations. The interviews were recorded and transcribed, informal methods for data reduction were used to condense the material, and the results and conclusions were presented to the participants and other interested parties at the company to improve clarity and eliminate error.
The study explores a process of technology maturation and implementation. Experience gained from aspects such as identification, selection, planning, execution and introduction of new technology was discussed. The overall vision of the general management is translated into requirements and goals for new technology. This process is highly cross functional, with different organizational groups contributing in various ways to develop the technology. Functional aspects of technology development are an intricate part of the study; differing views on the advantages and disadvantages of current work practices are outlined.