Magazine article Training & Development Journal

Management of Technology: A Prototype Program

Magazine article Training & Development Journal

Management of Technology: A Prototype Program

Article excerpt

Management of Technology A Prototype Program

In a world of dynamic and continuous change, technology is the center of gravity; it touches every aspect of human life. The ability to capitalize on, manage, and adapt technology in the strategic processes as well as the products of an enterprise is a new management need and challenge. Expert management of technology can mean the difference between success or failure, both nationally and internationally.

In every sense of the word, management of technology is interdisciplinary, requiring knowledge, talent, and skills in many diverse areas. In fact, it is a new discipline altogether, bringing together and integrating components from management, technology, and business. Successful managers need solid foundations in the technical domain; on that base, they can build their knowledge of business and of management.

First, a manager needs to understand technology. Where is it going from a technical perspective in such broad areas as information systems, biotechnology, materials, and manufacturing? A manager needs to understand technical professionals - the creators, adaptors, and implementers of technology. How do you manage and direct them while maximizing on their creativity and inventiveness? A manager must understand the dynamic structure and flow of the business - from research, to development, to manufacturing, and to service. In addition, a manager must understand business, economics, and finance.

The Manufacturing Studies Board, under the auspices of the National Research Council, recently sponsored a study of the new kind of management that is required today. The study, published in 1987, was executed by leaders in industry, academia, and the government. The focus was on critical needs in management skills, with an emphasis on what is needed in research and higher education to position the nation properly. The study predicted that a solution would not come quickly, because expertise is scattered widely and the body of knowledge is new, growing, and relatively unstructured.

The Manufacturing Studies Board report was a catalyst in getting the attention of the academic, government, and industrial communities. It became the starting point for efforts to launch educational programs in academia as well as industry.

An educational infrastructure

The top priority for education in the management of technology had to be professionals and managers already in the workforce. Effective education programs developed for those people could serve as prototypes for future programs aimed at generations of students who will eventually enter the workforce.

A unique prototype program is the new master's program in Management of Technology (MOT) by the National Technological University (NTU).

NTU is a consortium of 29 universities that was established in 1984 and accredited in 1986. (See the box, "NTU Participating Universities.") It provides an educational network infrastructure linking universities with industrial and governmental sites.

NTU is a nontraditional university; all of its students are professionals and managers sponsored by their organizations. All courses are delivered via satellite to students' workplaces from the participating universities and other sources of the education. Most courses are live and interactive, with one-way video and two-way audio.

In the graduate programs, NTU accumulates the credits transferred from participating universities and awards the degrees. Courses are the same ones offered to on-campus students at the member universities.

The fundamental role of NTU is to manage the network and to identify and implement the needs of its users. That includes organizing courses to be delivered and serving as a matchmaker between the diverse sources of education and the students and businesses. NTU handles promotion, advertising, and collection of fees. …

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