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From the inside: scientists' own experience of good (and bad) management

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Abstract:

One crucial yet relatively unexamined perspective on issues of concern to both organizations and nations, the creativity and productivity of scientific efforts, is the insider perspective. Insiders are privy to confidential information – in this study, first-hand observations of good and bad leadership – because of their position within the laboratory. The insider perspective can help answer such questions as: What are scientists' lived experiences of effective management? What have they observed as some of the impacts of ineffective management? What worries them in terms of their own capacity to lead and manage? This paper describes interim results of an ongoing, exploratory study of insiders in academia, government, and industry. For the past 5 years, more than 200 scientific researchers from Europe, Asia, and the US have been asked open-ended questions about (1) the best example of scientific leadership they have encountered; (2) the worst example; and (3) their most difficult problems leading scientific endeavours. Their responses to date have included unexpected and surprising results. Good leaders are most frequently described as caring and compassionate (in contrast to the expected description of technically competent). Bad leaders are most frequently described as (surprisingly) abusive. The other important (and ‘unintended’) finding is that gender inequity persists. These responses illuminate some of the challenges facing those who manage research and development (R&D), who study the management of R&D, and who are responsible for national policies regarding R&D.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2005.00404.x

Affiliations: Health Care Administration, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, USA , Email: sapienza@simmons.edu

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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