Purpose This study aims to propose a methodology by integrating three approaches, namely, internal core technology, external knowledge flow and industrial technology development to help companies improve their decision-making quality for technology planning and enhance their research and development (R&D) portfolio efficiency.
Design/methodology/approach The primary focus of this study is thin-film solar technology and patent data is retrieved from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. This study presents a methodology based on the proposed integrated analysis method, constructed with patent indicators, centrality analysis of social networks and main path analysis.
Findings The results of this study can be itemized as – the core technological competency: companies involved in two specific technology fields have lower strength in R&D portfolio than leading companies with single-core technology. Knowledge flow: most companies in a network are knowledge producers/absorbers and technological development: diverse source and sink nodes were identified in the global main path during 1997-2003, 2004-2010 and 2011-2017.
Research limitations/implications Latecomer companies can emulate leaders’ innovation and enhance their technological competence to seek niche technology. Using the global main path, companies monitor outdated technologies that can be replaced by new technologies and aid to plan R&D strategy and implement appropriate strategic decisions avoiding path dependency.
Originality/value The knowledge accumulation process helps in identifying the change of position and the role of companies; understanding the trend of industrial technology knowledge helps companies to develop new technology and direct strategic decisions. The novelty of this research lies in the integrated approach of three methods aiding industries to find their internal core technical competencies and identify the external position in the competitive market.