The functionality grid as paradigm for management of technology

Lochner, Frederick Christoffel (2011-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.


Technology is a critical component in modern society. Management of Technology (MOT) should be a major focus of management studies. At present the status of MOT is much less than it should be. Part of the reason is that there is little consensus about the body of knowledge for MOT. This can be traced down to as far as an inadequate consensus about the very nature of technology itself. There is a need for a simple and elegant conceptual foundation. There is a need for an accepted paradigm to govern MOT. The paradigm discourse initiated by Thomas Kuhn allows for a comprehensive frame of reference about theory contestation and about the attributes required from a contesting theory to achieve the ultimate status of a paradigm. In order to help create a coherent and streamlined conceptual foundation for MOT, this research evaluates the functionality grid as a paradigm. To realise this goal, this study first assesses the functionality grid’s compliance with the theoretical requirements of a paradigm, and secondly its compliance with the empirical requirements of a paradigm. The theoretical test uses a newly created format, the paradigm template, to establish the necessary criteria. The functionality grid is then subjected to a critical review using the said criteria. It is found that it meets the requirements of a valid paradigm. For measurement of empirical requirements, Kuhn’s own criteria are used. This second part of the study involves three practical exercises to examine the practical descriptive power of the functionality grid, and its ability to help first with the formation of a technology attuned mindset of participants, second with the improvement in technological knowledge and third with an increase in the technological literacy of participants. The outcomes of these tests are positive as well. The dissertation concludes that the functionality grid would be a viable paradigm to serve as a guide for the further development of MOT. The functionality grid becomes confirmed as a paradigm for MOT, because it contains all the attributes to serve as a coherent and streamlined conceptual structure for this discipline. Given this outcome, it is recommended that more effort be invested to understand, promote and popularise the functionality grid; and the various analytical frameworks derived from it. It is recommended that it becomes an explicit part of the book of knowledge for MOT and that it constitutes the basis for an educational curriculum to be shared by every MOT professional and student.

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