HP-Grenoble: Case Study in Technology Transfer

by Karl Schwarz



The transfer of a product or process from one location of an organization to another may be proposed for a variety of reasons: a need to increase corporate presence in a given market area, a desire to spread risks, or a requirement to free congested facilities for other purposes. Technology may be transferred to areas with lower operating costs or tax structures for obvious profit motives. Occasionally, the purpose may be to seed new operations or to simply balance production. Besides these stated considerations, transfers usually involve some interdivisional competition, which often leads to significant innovation. The consequent attitudinal and profit benefits frequently exceed those originally projected and extend to other products, processes, or people. The motives for any two transfers are never quite the same, even within the same company. But in any technology transfer, there are enough common elements to make a single case study instructive. A task force consisting of senior members of the German factory management team studied the issue. For a variety of reasons, they concluded that establishment of a third facility in Europe-specifically, in France would provide the best balance for marketing and manufacturing Hewlett-Packard electronic products there.

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