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Organization of industrial R&D on a global scale

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Although the globalization of industrial R&D processes has increasingly attracted management scientists and considerable work on R&D internationalization has been done since the 70s, important problems in organizing geographically distributed R&D sites have not yet been resolved. This analysis is based on 165 interviews in 31 technology-based multinationals from Switzerland, Germany, USA, and Japan conducted between 1994 and 1997. We describe the extent of R&D internationalization, its key drivers and principal impediments. Two trends are identified: (i) a geographic concentration on leading technology centres, and (ii) a tightened coordination of R&D units. Overlaying structures, superimposed to regional and functional structures, play a central role in overcoming current deficits in global R&D management. Organizational constituents of this structure are technology offices (Schering), technology management as a competence center (Schindler), central project offices (IBM), central project management (Bayer), project oriented career development (Bosch), virtual project management departments (Roche), and cross-cultural job rotation (ATR).

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9310.00092

Affiliations: 1: Corporate R&D at Schindler Lifts Ltd., 6031 Ebikon/Lucerne, Switzerland oliver_gassmann@ch.schindler.com 2: Institute for Technology Management, University of St. Gallen, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland maxi.zedtwitz@unisg.ch

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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