Transfer of knowledge and experience
Effective transfer of technology, as applied to Consulting Engineering and related professions, comprises the transfer of knowledge and experience from an Organisation, or individuals, to those not possessing such skills. This policy statement deals with the transfer of technical and management skills of developed countries’ professionals to their colleagues in developing countries. it should be emphasised that knowledge on local political, social and environmental conditions, and on indigenous techniques and materials, is equally important to ensure that the acquired knowledge and experience can be put to effective and lasting use by the receiving party.
...as effective means of promoting local industries
FIDIC bly endorses the principle of appropriate transfer of technology in the terms of this policy statement. Agenda 21 recognises technology transfer as an essential element in the process towards sustainable development on a global scale. Accordingly, the transfer of technology, or know-how, should become a necessary element of projects undertaken in the developing world. In some cases, such transfer could even comprise the entire scope of a project.
Consulting work as channel for transfer
The transfer of know-how is a continuous process taking place in all sectors of society. However, an obvious and effective channel for accomplishing this transfer is professional consulting work, which generally starts with the conceptualisation, planning and development of capital projects, and then continues through design, implementation, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation. In professional consulting work, the transfer of know-how usually involves the passing of knowledge and experience from consulting organisations or individual consultants of the industrialised countries to the local consultants, or the staff of clients, in developing countries.
Working in mixed teams
There are many ways to achieve transfer of knowledge and each method has a particular advantage or disadvantage depending on many factors. It is very important to carefully select the appropriate method in view of the local circumstances and objectives. Notwithstanding the method of approach, however, an effective transfer of knowledge through development projects will hardly be possible unless the receiving party plays a meaningful role in the project. A passive counterpart system has proved to not be the answer. Integration of clients’ and consultants’ teams, or of local and foreign consultants, will ensure the local input necessary to make transfer of knowledge work.
Classroom type of instruction and on-the-job participation
The transfer of know-how can take place in the client’s country or in the country of the foreign consultant, or possibly in both places. It can be achieved through formal classroom type instructions, and/or on-the-job participation and training in the planning, design, implementation and commissioning of projects. Ideally, the recipient personnel should receive formal classroom type instruction and also be required to apply the knowledge thus acquired by working on projects.
Comprehensive scope of skills to be transferred
The transfer of know-how should be aimed not only at passing on technical skills, but also at teaching the overall aspects of project development, environmental concern and project management, as well as company administration and finance. The full integration of project teams should be recognised as an important requirement for achieving the optimum transfer of technical, ecological, administrative and financial know-how from foreign to local consulting firms.
This comprehensive skill is often overlooked with the result that the transfer of skills to individuals may be successful, but the receiving party may not be able to benefit because of the failure of the local business unit. Accordingly, the strengthening of the consulting industry should be an objective to enhance the survival rate of local firms.
In the case of planning, design and construction projects, the technology transfer program should be developed taking into account
- the appropriateness of the technology to be transferred;
- the type of service to be performed by the foreign consultant;
- the organisational structures of the receiving bodies (public and private);
- the availability of suitable individual recipients possessing the necessary scholastic, technical and language capabilities, either within the client’s Organisation, or within local consulting firms;
- the availability of funds to cover the costs of accomplishing the required transfer of know-how, in addition to the normal projects costs;
- the impact that the requirement for transfer of know-how will have on the foreign consultantís responsibilities and liabilities;
- the environmental sustainability of the project.
The programme should also include measures for monitoring the result with respect to technology transfer.
Therefore, FIDIC recommends as follows:
1. In the developing world, projects should include an element of technology transfer, to the extent possible, without imposing unreasonable liabilities on any of the parties involved, and without rendering impractical the completion of their services within the available budget and time.
2. Transfer of know-how should best be achieved through collaboration between firms or organisations of foreign and local professionals so that the know-how will be received by an organised firm rather than individuals, and so that the know-how will not be confined to special project-related tasks, but also to the organisation’s operational procedures.
3. For successful transfer of know-how through ad-hoc collaboration on specific projects, it should be considered a specific task in the project description, so that ft can be property planned to include a combination of formal instruction, on-the-job participation and training. Budgetary provisions to cover the transfer aspects must be sufficient. 4. The collaboration may be arranged through sub-consultancy agreements, project consortia, joint ventures or management agreements.
The project terms of reference should make adequate provisions for such transfer in the time, personnel, liability and insurance requirements, and the additional costs that will be incurred in achieving the objective. Information and undertakings relating to transfer of technology should be collected into a statement that is agreed to by both parties. Means of monitoring the effectiveness of the technology transfer should be included. The monitoring system should also consider the institutional strengthening, so as to assist the local firms to maintain the skill development and to keep up to date with changes.