Research Activities

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N Nahar's research interests focus on business, economics, information technology, software engineering, application of numerical techniques, psychology, and sociology. Multidisciplinary research topics interest her. She conducts research by using multiple background theories such as diffusion of innovation theory, cooperation and networks relationship theories, business process improvement theory, resource-based theory, transaction cost theory, contingency theory, knowledge management theory, absorptive capacity theory, and learning theories. She has extensively done qualitative research (i.e. field studies, qualitative data analysis, etc.). She has also used quantitative research methods (i.e. branch and bound, ordinal scale measurement, survey). In addition, she reviewed the following research methods for her Ph.D. study: laboratory experiment, field experiment, action research, and observation method. She has done extensive field studies that were spread over several countries (the USA, Finland, Germany, Estonia, India, Bangladesh, Hungary, Thailand, and Malaysia). The followings are some of her research topics and click on them for a brief description of them.

Diffusion of Software Engineering Innovations

Software technology transfer (STT) is an issue of current research that refers to the transfer (delivery) of a software technology package by a technology producer (supplier) to a technology consumer (recipient) who uses it in the creation and production of software products. The package includes software technology, documentation (procedures), training, and technical support. In STT, the recipient acquires a new software technology. This technology is one kind of innovation. Through STT, this technology is delivered to the recipient. In this way, STT can be viewed as the diffusion of software engineering innovation (SEI). 

Effective diffusion of SEI is essential for software producers for surviving in the environment of rapid shortening of software technology life cycles, changing customer demands, and intense global competition. There are too many software producing companies failing to acquire SEI successfully in present complex environment. In fact, there exists no framework for the diffusion process of SEI that can provide systematic guidelines to execute various steps of the diffusion process in present globalized software business environment. This increases the need to investigate the diffusion process of SEI. 

Our approach to this issue has been: a) analyzing background theory, b) reviewing the literature in the fields of software engineering (technology), SEI, STT, and diffusion of innovations, c) carrying out a multiple focus group analysis in three companies, d) developing an STT framework, and e) identifying success factors through empirical research. d) & e) above, contribute both in terms of theory and practice. At the theoretical level, it provides an STT process framework that can be used as a basis for further research. At the practical level, the framework can guide managers in acquiring SEI effectively and efficiently. 

Our research also investigates and analyses other issues of international SEI, IS/IT innovation and diffusion (see the publication list, section E).

Software Production through Offshore Outsourcing

Many researchers have pointed out that Western software producing companies are facing intense competition, and are under a great pressure to introduce complex products in a short period of time, while facing a very high shortage of appropriately trained software professionals. Increasingly, these software producing companies are attempting to produce some of their software through international outsourcing in order to overcome these difficulties. Various researchers have indicated that outsourcing can provide high benefits to both the outsourcing user and outsourcing provider. A great amount of literature exists on the importance of international outsourcing. Unfortunately, very limited literature exists that describes in detail the tasks involved in each phase of an international outsourcing process. Commonly, Western companies spend a high amount of time and money only to explore and figure out how to execute many tasks of various phases of an international outsourcing process, mainly due to a great lack of a systematic framework of international outsourcing process with the phases described in a great detail. Therefore, we felt that an in-depth research is needed on international software production through outsourcing. 

Our research examines and analyses how the software production through international outsourcing process is executed. This research is carried out by: a) reviewing literature, b) interviewing of and consulting with researchers and practitioners, c) analyzing several case companies which have executed the various phases of outsourcing process, d) developing a framework for IT-supported international outsourcing process, e) identifying various factors that create barriers to international outsourcing and the measures to overcome these barriers, and f) identifying the critical success factors that contribute to the success of IT-supported international outsourcing. d), e) & f) above, contribute both in terms of theory and practice. At the theoretical level, it provides a framework of international software production through outsourcing that can be used as a basis for further research. At the practical level, the framework can guide managers in international software production through outsourcing process, effectively and efficiently. They also provide a mechanism for controlling the risks of outsourcing projects.

Our study also investigates international software productions through other modes such as joint venture, subsidiary, etc. (see the publication list, section F).


Software Product Development and Software Project Management

 This research investigates software companies’ international software development approaches for world markets. This research is conducted by a) analyzing the resource-based theory and cooperation and network theories, b) reviewing the literature in the field of international software product development for world markets, c) performing case analyses of companies’ international software product development for world markets, and d) interviewing experts and practitioners in the field of international software product development.

This study contributes both in terms of theory and practice. At the theoretical level, the study introduces a framework of international software product development for world markets. It can be used as a basis for further research. This study presents empirical case analyses of international software product development of companies, which are using innovative technologies and a holistic approach to develop software. Their software product development spreads over multiple countries and targets world markets from the outset. At the practical level, the research results will help software companies to avoid the problems and obtain benefits from international software product development.

Our research also investigates software projects management. In making transition from local development to global development, developers are facing great difficulties in setting up appropriate global project organizations and executing suitable development processes. The research is carried out by reviewing literature and conducting a multiple case study method. This study introduces project organizations and development processes for global software products and information systems. The research will guide companies, who are involved in the development of global software products and customized information systems, to implement appropriate project organizations and development processes, and to achieve the goals (please see the publication list, section F).

IT-supported International High Technology Transfer and Management

Research, practice, and experience have proven that technologically advanced companies need to transfer their technological know-how to less developed companies. It has become increasingly important since the successful execution of a technology transfer project can provide benefits for all parties involved, including the technology supplier, technology supplying country, technology receiver, and technology receiving country. Through the transfer of technology, a supplier can obtain access to foreign markets, extend the technology life cycle, recover research and development (R&D) expenses, and achieve long-term growth and survival. In turn, the acquisition of foreign technology allows the technology recipient to upgrade its capabilities. A technology supplying country can obtain funds through technology transfer and deploy more resources towards developing advanced technologies in R&D areas, create high-income jobs, and raise the standard of living. A receiving country can upgrade its technological infrastructure and improve its standard of living through increased productivity and newly created jobs. 

So far such technology transfer was done through conventional methods that was not cost effective and involved high risks. Our research was undertaken to promote technology transfer with the help of information technology (IT). The basic research question addressed is: how do advanced ITs assist companies in their efforts of the international transfer of technology? 

We analyze background theories, review literature in the fields of technology transfer, inspect the practical use of information technology and innovations as well as diffusion of innovations in it, interview researchers and practitioners, conduct a pilot case study, analyze four high-tech companies, and conduct a cross-case analysis. This research utilizes a multiple focus group research method to answer some of the research sub-questions and measure various factors associated with technology transfer and its project through ordinal scale of measurement.

Our study has applications in a wide range of settings both in research and managerial areas. 

Our study develops a new model for IT-supported technology transfer process in the context of a horizontal technology transfer. The model breaks up technology transfer process into eight phases and analyzes the different types of ITs that can be beneficially used in the different phases. Effective implementation of this model can provide some of the following benefits: a) shorten the time requirements for the execution of technology transfer process, b) decrease expenses of technology transfer, c) ease the entire process, d) facilitate foreign market entry, and e) increase recipient satisfaction. This approach has been developed by using a rigorous scientific method that is more comprehensive than other existing technology transfer theories and can guide companies in executing a successful technology transfer process. 

Our study also contributes to the scientific understanding of success factors of IT implementation, factors that cause barriers to IT implementation, and actions necessary to enhance the success in IT implementation for technology transfer in both developing and emerging countries by describing four high-tech companies in-depth and a comparative case analysis. These can guide both the technology supplier and the recipient to implement the IT project for technology transfer more effectively and efficiently. The study also introduces an extended version of diffusion of innovations theory, which has been empirically tested, that will also guide to examine the IT implementation in developing and emerging countries.

Our research also investigates other important issues related to IT-supported international high technology transfer (see the publication list, sections A, B, C & D).

Although this research concentrated on high-tech multinational companies, later we found that much of our findings are also applicable to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs); we then made extensive investigations on SMEs and made a few publications on that. The adequate financial and human resources of high-tech multinational companies allow them to take fast actions and adopt advanced techniques like IT. Such attitudes of these companies made our study very successful and prompt. However, our analyses and findings equally apply to SMEs.

IT-aided International Training

High-tech companies from industrialized countries are increasingly forced to enter into the markets of developing countries and emerging economies through technology transfer. Adequate training is essential to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the international technology recipients in order to transfer technology effectively. Recipients of both software technology and other high technologies require adequate and effective training as well. The technology recipients in an emerging market and a developing country commonly require product and process technologies, as well as a broader range of skills and procedures relating to operations, problem solving, and management. The software technology recipients require various knowledge and skills in the areas of modern software technologies, management of software projects, software quality management, creating documentation, etc. The technology recipients commonly require training on aforementioned areas. 

Commonly technology is transferred through intimate human interactions due to its complex nature. Mostly traditional training methods and tools are used to transfer technology from an industrialized country to a developing country; they include man-made presentation, demonstration, visiting production facilities, job training, joint problem solving, etc. Sometimes a combination of traditional tools and IT based tools are used to transfer complex technology from one industrialized country to another industrialized country. These traditional methods of training associated with international technology transfer require a) especial skills of the trainers to train trainees with different cultures, b) high amounts of human resources, c) traveling, time, and d) money. Due to various demanding requirements in traditional methods of training, many potential technology suppliers are unable to participate in international technology transfer, thus the prospective technology recipients are unable to get adequate training from their international technology suppliers. 

Recent advancements of information technologies, in particular global networks and IT based training tools have become more readily available and easier to use in education and training. A variety of IT tools such as multimedia simulation software, CD-ROM (or DVD-ROM), e-mail, Web, Chat, Internet discussion group, teleconferencing, video conferencing, and groupware can be used for pedagogical purposes. There is a great potential for the usage of IT for international training to transfer software technologies and other high technologies. Several companies have also been attempting to use new ITs to facilitate international training. Since IT-aided international training is new, many companies have not been able to obtain the expected benefits due to various barriers associated with an IT-aided international training.

Our study examines: how is the international training facilitated by using modern IT tools to transfer software technologies and other high technologies? Which factors create barriers to IT-aided international training process and sub-processes and which measures are taken to overcome these barriers? In order to execute the research, we make a literature review, analyze learning theory, business process improvement theory, and utilize a multiple case study method.

Global Electronic Commerce Process: Business-to-Business

Global electronic commerce (GEC) or the process of conducting business utilizing new information and communication technologies (ICTs) on a worldwide basis, can revolutionize the way companies do international business. Companies can obtain high benefits through innovative uses of the ICTs in their global electronic promotion (GEP) and GEC efforts. GEC can also provide various benefits to customers, suppliers, and even to countries themselves. Despite this tremendous potential for GEP and GEC, there are no effective frameworks currently existing for the successful execution of the GEP and GEC (business-to-business) processes. Due to the lack of frameworks, many new and young companies have not been able to understand and obtain competitive advantages from their GEP and GEC efforts.

The basic research problem addressed in this study is: How can new information and communication technologies facilitate global electronic commerce (business-to-business) effectively and efficiently for companies while overcoming problems and reducing risks?

A literature review and empirical investigations were conducted to execute this research. We find that most of these companies need integration of new ICTs with existing information systems to provide the information technology infrastructure for GEC. Our research presents conceptual frameworks of the GEC process (business-to-business) as well as a GEP process for companies. These frameworks can assist companies in identifying GEC opportunities and strategies. It is proposed that companies can communicate, collaborate and cooperate with customers, companies, suppliers, and partners through networking systems. They can achieve unique benefits in their GEC efforts as well as create competitive advantages in an intensely competitive and extremely turbulent global environment. By utilizing ICTs, companies are able to reduce the problems and risks related to technology (or business) and to provide effective assistance in the GEC process. Our research also presents frameworks for problem and risk reduction. Our research introduces a new GEC methodology, which can systematically guide companies to globalize and facilitate rapid access to foreign markets.

Our research also investigates and analyses business-to-consumer and other related issues (see the publication list, section G).

Enterprise Development and Innovative Marketing Approach

This research investigates empirically and in-depth, innovative small and medium-sized high-tech enterprises (SMEs) of different parts of the world who have established their businesses in the cyberspace and are (were) using modern information technologies very effectively and efficiently, particularly in marketing.

Internationalization of Small and Mid-sized Software Firms and Risks They Face

This research investigates both theoretically and empirically the following research questions since 1994:

  1. Reasons for international success of Indian, Irish, and Israeli software companies and software industry.
  2. How some Bangladeshi software companies have achieved success in their internationalization endeavors and what factors are causing barriers to the Bangladeshi companies in general.
  3. What are the risks involved in their information technology supported internationalization efforts? How could they reduce the risks?
  4.  How could Finnish software companies internationalize successfully avoiding risks?

 This is to mention that N. Nahar has undertaken several other empirical research (see the publication list, sections A & G). 

Consensus Ranking based on Branch and Bound Algorithm

The method is very suitable for analyzing critical success factors, barriers, measures, etc. If different companies give different priorities to the various success factors (or barriers) then one can arrive at a consensus ranking of the priorities of success factors. One first defines a distance between different rankings and optimization of this distance leads to the consensus ranking. The optimization algorithm uses the branch and bound technique. We have applied focus group method to four high-tech Finnish companies to get four different rankings of the factors critical for their success (or failure). Then by applying the branch and bound technique we derive a consensus ranking that reveals a lot of facts about diffusion of innovation theory. Based on our observation we are trying to generalize diffusion of innovation theory further (see the publication list, section A).


Globally distributed creation of closed and open innovations and their diffusions

Knowledge creation and management

Software business and business models

Cloud computing


See the Publication List 

The programme provides students with a holistic understanding of important industry segments, and their critical success factors such as product development and customer relationship management processes spanning software engineering, marketing, financial, strategic, and human resource management" (Software Business Program, University of Jyväskylä).


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