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Investigating differences among research projects and implications for managers

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As research and innovation have become central to the economy, the challenge of managing these activities has taken on greater importance. Studies have focused on the impact of organizational variables on research activities, such as work environment, human resource factors, and managerial practices. But little attention has been paid to the effect of differences among types of research projects. While the notion that differences exist among research projects is acknowledged, particularly in the research & development portfolio literature, there have been relatively few studies into the dimensions by which research projects, and needs of project team members, differ. Further, there is little recognition that these differences translate into the need for different research project management practices. The objective of this paper is to investigate differences among research projects along three dimensions, amount of funding, complexity of project teams, and research orientation. These dimensions are selected because of their central theoretical importance in the organizational literature, as well as posing a number of different challenges for research management. This study looked at 18 research projects at a national laboratory and analyzed the responses of project members to a comprehensive research environment survey conducted in 2001. The results of the analysis indicate that there are significant differences between types of projects along three dimensions and suggest ways that research performance can be improved through management intervention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sandia National Laboratories, Washington, DC 20024, USA , Email: [email protected] 2: University of Maryland, Center for Innovation, College Park, MD 20742, USA  ; [email protected]; [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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