Keywords: technology brokers, negotiation, intermediaries, software, product development, unequal dyads
Technology brokers in the North American software industry: getting the most out of mismatched dyads
Much valuable innovation takes place in smaller firms. Yet small-firm innovators often have insufficient capital, production and marketing expertise, or distributional power to take full advantage of their developments. Larger firms have those capabilities but, with those functions highly professionalised, may have difficulties dealing with smaller firms. Mechanisms are needed to bring the innovations of smaller firms and the organisational capabilities of larger firms together. Previous work has examined the roles of technology transfer agents and devices such as mavens, alliances, databases, and contracts. Most of that work focused on either dyadic relationships or personnel transfers. Triadic relationships are growing in importance, with "technology brokers" serving as intellectual property intermediaries. In this paper, roles played by technology brokers are examined to determine the skills and market positions at which they are most valuable and effective. Models are presented which suggest the best practices for larger and smaller organisations.