Dr. Roland Wittmann’s base education was an apprenticeship in electronics and a diploma in business and engineering from the University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt. Since then, his professional career has focused on the automotive area, covering R&D as well as sales leadership roles at Grammer, Cherry/ZF Electronics, and FCI/Delphi. Currently, he is working as vice president of sales, Europe at Autoliv, one of the world leaders in automotive safety restraint systems and automated driving.
The contours of today’s corporate landscape are strongly shaped by finance
investors who own businesses, either in part or fully. This thesis analyses the
processes of cooperation and interaction between businesses and finance
investors regarding technology strategy. In addition to the question of the direct
influence finance investors might have on technology strategy, indirect
influences are also investigated. An evaluation of the finance investors’
capabilities and responsibilities is carried out in parallel to understand what “real
potential” investors have to influence the technology strategy of companies in
their portfolio. This work addresses a gap in current existing literature and
research in this area as the elements of direct involvement of investors in
technology strategy of firms they own are not yet studied in depth.
A purely qualitative approach of case study research was chosen as the method
most suitable for obtaining the desired insights. A pilot project involving two
cases, confirmed the efficacy of the semi-structured questionnaire for
conducting in-depth interviews. A further 12 case studies were carried out with
companies that were selected following defined criteria to ensure the
reproducibility of results. The final work has a fundament of 14 cases, consisting
of 43 interviews with finance investors and portfolio company representatives.
Finance investors consider the technology strategy of their portfolio companies
to be vital as it impacts the market value of the company and financial results.
Besides the financial impact of technology strategy, finance investors show no
specific interest in technology strategy nor are they likely to have major
expertise in this area. Responsibility for driving technology strategy is clearly in
the hands of the corporate managers. But finance investors do exert strong
indirect influence by controlling and steering budgets, investments, etc. and also
through their consultancy role in the organisational development process.