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Initial directors of international R&D laboratories

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Technology intensive companies establish new R&D laboratories in regions of high innovation and near centers of scientific excellence. Identifying the right R&D director to head up such greenfield investments is central to the success or failure of the new lab. Analyzing 162 interviews with senior R&D managers, we identify eight different directorship profiles. Examples of new R&D sites and their directors include IBM, Daimler, Leica, Microsoft, Xerox, Lucent and Ciba. The initial mission and the intraorganizational and intraregional integration of the new lab are principal factors for director selection, determining expatriate or national management, cultural and ethnic familiarity, as well as local or international transfers. The analysis of succeeding R&D directors indicates a trend towards locally rooted yet organizationally competent R&D managers. The paper concludes with desired qualifications of director candidates for newly established international R&D sites.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: IMD International, Lausanne, Switzerland

Publication date: September 1, 2003


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