Master thesis "The role of communication in internationalization processes of RTOs (Research and Technology Organizations): A comparison study between Wageningen University and Research Center and Tecnalia
no literature referred to the role of communication in these organizations a new model has been developed taking into account five communication related factors affecting internationalization processes Here first the organization itself is going to be studied, to later on understand and guide its behavior in a global market context. It is assumed that both stages are related and affecting each other in the sense that a bad internal structure or organizational culture could develop miscommunication between parties in some international project implementation.
have been a significant part of regional development history and secondly, how RTOs are organized today in Basque innovation system Basque region is characterized by strong independent technology and innovation policies since beginning of 1980s as a result of Spanish political transition. The creation of RTOs was among the first actions that the Basque Government planned in order to react to the strong industrial crisis in early 1980s f the year 2001 the directors of three RTOs (Labein, Inasmet and Robotiker) announced a plan to establish a new organisation Tecnalia. The motivation to form a joint organization was partly due to similar areas of research and possible synergies and complementarities in those, but also to have a larger organization in order to better compete in European market.
Thesis "The role of communication in internationalization processes of RTOs"
Wageningen University – Social Science DepartmentChair Group - Communication and Innovation Studies The role of communication in the internationalization processes of Research and Technology Organizations (RTO): A comparison study between Tecnalia and Wageningen University and Research Center MSc- Thesis Ainara Alonso SilvaSupervisors:Dr. ir. L.W.A. KlerkxCommunication and Innovation Studies GroupDr. PJAM, SmeetsAlterra
IntroductionEUROPEAN RESEARCH ARENA• market globalization• socio-economic crisis• new ways of permanency• fragmentation of the ERA• mechanisms to promote collaborationimportance of RTOs• link innovation with research• mobilize coalitions• tackle the Grand Challenges• build scale and scope• technological capabilities
RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY ORGANIZATIONS (RTOs)“specialized knowledge organizations dedicated to thedevelopment and transfer of science and technology to the benefitof the economy and society” EARTO.” 3 Diffusion, Dissemination Through demonstrators, contract research, consulting, APPLIED licensing, spin-offs, 2 publication, advanced RTOs play a Technology Development training, etc Through cooperation with significant and key actual and potential users, integrating role in EU value chain partners and others to turn knowledge research, bridging into value-added the gap between technology KNOWLEDGE basic research and practical 1 Competence Building Through socio economic monitoring and dialogue, applications and in- house strategic working with BASIC research, university cooperation, universities, governments and PUBLIC CORE COMPETITIVE CUSTOMER PUBLIC AND PRIVET REVENUES enterprises to find Source: European Commission practical solutions to FUNDING key societal challenges. founded for different policy proposes variety of characteristics
SUITABILITY OF THE RESEARCH: why?Europe’s Research and TechnologyOrganisations (RTOs) have been INTERNATIONALIZATIONmaking a major contribution to +innovation excellence, economic COMMUNICATIONcompetitiveness and social progressacross Europe for 60 years.RTOs’ track record is undeniable, THE RESEARCH:but it goes largely unreported. “The role of communication in internationalization processes ofAgainst the current backdrop of fiscal RTOs: a comparison study betweenausterity, urgent Grand Challenges Tecnalia and Wageningenand ERA objectives, European and University and Research Center”national policy makers want realinnovation impact.RTOs must move fast into new ways ofpermanency.
Theoretical frameworkINTERNATIONALIZATION Business internationalization Uppsala Internationalization Model (U-M) Innovation-related Internationalization Models (I-M) Born Global Network approach RTOs Internationalization primary or infancy stage: basic collaboration abroad; publications; informal exchanges; cooperation agreements or technology alliances intermediate or second stage: acquiring new foreign clients; establishing R&D facilities abroad through: foreign controlled affiliates or by investing in foreign countries
ROLE OF COMMUNICATION IN INTERNATIONALIZATION PROCESSESinternationalization activities arefull of processes related to Communication approaches that could be crucial inalliances, connections, internationalization processes:reputation, capacity building, FACTOR I: Building a strategic organization chartknowledge transfer, deal with FACTOR II: Organizational culturepower, branding… where FACTOR III: Network buildingcommunication is relevant. FACTOR IV: Communication in project building
The researchRESEARCH QUESTIONS Main question: What is the role of the communication in the internationalization processes of RTO? •In which internationalization stage are now both centers? 1.Which are the main internationalization barriers and needs that these two organizations find to start or improve an internationalization process? 2.Which are the main goals in terms of internationalization for the coming years? 3.Which are the main challenges to approach the desired goals in the coming years in terms of internationalization? •Is communication a strategic element in the internationalization processes? 1.Is communication a strategic element of the organizations participating in the internationalization processes? 2.How are the five communication elements identified before (organizational culture; organizational structure; international cooperation; reputation; knowledge management and transfer)taken into account in the internationalization processes?
Wageningen UR TecnaliaBorn to fulfill the demand from the industry Strategy to give technological solutions toand public sector in the University hot-topics. the remaining industries of the zone.Focus on 5 main research domains: 1.663 people on the staff•Agro-technology and Food Sciences organizational model•Animal Sciences based on 5 business units:•Environmental Sciences Sustainable Development•Plant Sciences ICT-European Software Institute•Social Sciences Industry and transportin a transversal way. Innovation and Society48% of the turnover financed by the Dutch HealthGovernment 116 million of income, 44% financed by the Basque Government
METHODOLOGY Literature research Exploratory/Qualitative research: 16 interviews in total Snowball sampling Semi-structured interviews Data Analysis: Interpretive coding technique
FindingsThe internationalization stageCorporate communicationsOrganizational CultureNetwork, alliances and project management
INTERNATIONALIZATION Wageningen UR TecnaliaStage •Institute-based. •Unit-based.(research internationalization) •Permanently located in China, Brazil and with •Europe oriented representatives for Africa, Latin America, Asia •Shared facilities and innovative formulas (sales network, joint and Europe ventures)Who •14 people set up of the internationalization plan; •1 person in the internationalization strategy (management regional account managers, brokerage board), one in each unit.The strategy •Prioritization of topics and countries. •Sales increment and a better connectivity rate with other •Proactive /passive international stakeholders. •Subsidiary offices/on-request •Is not a prioroty to have owned structures.Markets •Emerging countries: volume in research •Sophisticated and emerging markets are important, markets capacity, quality and funding opportunities Two with a good or interresting innovation system. country categories.Countries •Priority: China, India, South Korea, Eastern •Latin America, Balkans, Arabic Emirates, Jordan and Qatar. Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico. •2nd type Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, western AfricaBarriers •No internal; external new policy and funding cut •We don´t know how to reach those markets. from the government; new target group. •Language. •Personnel mobilityStrengths •Network and contacts, embassies and •Important role in European Projects counsellor´s support;
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS • Communication is an important issue for both centers, they mainly work in “branding”, “reputation”, “media” and other strategic tasks, but also in “brochure and publications”, “contact management” or “event organization”. •Communication departments can be found in the whole structure of the organization, but mainly differentiated in two levels: corporate (strategic) and institute communication (assistance function). •Gap between corporate-communication and institute-communication. •“..let the outside world know what Wageningen is doing, that’s the main objective to develop or that they meet our international portfolio: what are our strengths, our competences… So, that´s one thing for the outside world. Another one, is let people inside Wageningen know what we are doing internationally..(RW1:12-17)” •“is important to have synchronicity between what people are working in the field and what we are communicating” (RW1:86-88) •New communication approaches should be needed to reach new targets.
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE TecnaliaWageningen UR •Internal communication has three main•There are no special actions to build focal points: personnel development,up a common organization culture information flow and organizationalwith shared values and goals. culture•Internal communication channels •“integration of the culture”. It defines alike the intranet, meetings, top-down strategy to detect the mainnewsletters, informative emails and a barriers and actions to facilitate themagazine, are the tools used. integration of the new culture.•Each center has its own culture, most •“Commitment”, an evaluation of theof the “big-issues” or milestones are compromise of the employees with thecommunicated to everyone in the organization. The main objective is to raiseorganization. the compromise with the organization and•Competing attitudes between the participation by 30%. It takes intoinstitutes. account four factors: the significance of the position, leadership, team work and participation. • One of the priorities is to establish a common view and culture focused on the internationalization of the organization
NETWORK, ALLIANCES AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT Wageningen UR• WUR has a strong scientific reputationaround the world. This reputation is basedon the number of publications, their goodposition in the research rankings but also Tecnaliafrom a good selection of partners all over the •Contact management and networkworld. building is not their work: “researchers research”• Institutional relations are crucial, that’sbecause the role of knowledge brokers •Most of the network is related tobecome key for the internationalization. European projects, more efforts in this sense are needed.• Lack of knowledge on culturalcommunication, group’s mediation andfacilitation, or management skills are someof the mentioned barriers.• Researchers demand support fromcommunication to approach these newtargets.
Conclusions According to the results, we can state that RTOs don’t follow stage-based internationalization theories, using a broader meaning of internationalization. RTO´s are embedded in complex processes where alliances, networks and reputation are important ingredients for internationalization.Different paths of internationalization. Tecnalia is closer to a “primary stage”of internationalization and in the process of developing their possibilities insidethis stage, when Wageningen UR could be a bit further facing a “secondary” or“mature” stage where it is important to look for new investors.
•New context trends and new businessreality needs from new communicationformulas adapted to the environment.•Complex hierarchical structures leakinformation, loosing opportunities.•These organizations should evolve intoopen culture organizations whereinformation flow and learning opportunitiesare guaranteed.•An inventory of internal knowledge andexperience should be done, to enhancelearning and cooperation.
•Detected communication levels are necessary in a proper combination, it isclear that researchers demand more strategic communication to tackle newchallenges.•Even internal communication tools are implemented , they should be revisedto check their usability and improve their use between employees.•In the case of Wageningen UR an internal communication research should bedone to detect constrains and plan solutions and actions to develop a commonculture.•Tecnalia, should focus on reinforcing the internationalization mindset.
Limitations & RecommnendationsLimitations of the research…The overview of the study could be partial:-Snowball sampling-Complexity of the organizations and knowledge of the author-Could be possible that selected group does not reflect the real overview Recommendations for further research… • Due to the limited number of participants of the study, research on a bigger scale would be relevant in order to generalize these results and findings. (EARTO, National policy makers, RTOs) • More research on their internationalization processes could shed light to the understanding of international research collaboration processes, facilitating them and establishing better practices. •Both institutions are immerse in changing processes, the research should be repeated once both organizations start working as a whole.