First Advisor

Charles M. Weber

Date of Publication

Spring 6-4-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Technology Management


Engineering and Technology Management




Technology transfer -- Developing countries, Technological innovations -- Economic aspects, Technological innovations -- Social aspects, Technology transfer -- Developed countries



Physical Description

1 online resource (xvi, 291 pages)


The national laboratories (NLs) play a critical role in the economic and social development of technological latecomer countries, yet no academic study has ever quantified how knowledge inflows and internal knowledge impact the performance of the NLs. This dissertation identifies and ranks the importance of factors pertaining to knowledge inflows and project-internal knowledge, which determine the success or failure of research projects in the NLs of Thailand. A survey of 123 project managers in the NLs, which covers 208 R&D projects, has been conducted. It consists of a questionnaire and unstructured interviews in which the project managers discuss their project(s). Data from the questionnaire are analyzed by factor analysis, multiple regression and logistic regression; qualitative data from the interviews are used to interpret the quantitative results from the questionnaire.

The research finds that, regardless of a project's mission, knowledge inflows from outside the project group impact performance more significantly than knowledge from inside the project group does. Second, the capacity of R&D project groups within the NLs to absorb knowledge from external sources is very selective. Absorptive capacity does not just pertain to prior related knowledge; it is also a function of the source of external knowledge, the knowledge pathway into the project group, the source of complementary or substitutive knowledge that resides within the project group, and the mission to which the knowledge contributes. Third, the NLs face an ambidexterity challenge that is commonly observed in private industry--exploiting current capabilities interferes with the national laboratories' capability to explore.

The discovery of selective absorption of knowledge provides practicing managers with a toolkit of micro-levers with which they can enhance performance as measured by a variety of metrics in highly specific ways. The dissertation also proposes and validates a theoretical framework for knowledge management that decomposes the national laboratory system into nine knowledge subsystems, which can be managed at a relatively low level of the organization. The methods by which this research has been conducted can be used as a tool to benchmark how knowledge management practices in different R&D organizations and environments impact performance. Guidelines for structural adjustments to the national innovation system, which are based on these contributions, should enable policymakers in most countries to implement an Open Innovation program for their national laboratories and enhance the ambidexterity of their organizations.


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