Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to opens up the research and development (R&D) organisation by separating product and process innovation and exploring these activities in terms of the structural variable of centralisation versus decentralisation. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Case studies of three multinational firms, representing food and beverage, mining and minerals, and pulp and paper industry. Findings ‐ Dual structures may exist within the R&D organisation, one for product innovation and one for process innovation. Consequently, it is suggested that the conventional notion of R&D organisational design, equating R&D more or less with product innovation, does not present a complete picture for many firms. Research limitations/implications ‐ Opening up the R&D organisation will help further the understanding link between the organisational structuring of product and process innovation, and the efforts of organisations to develop resources and competitive advantages. Practical implications ‐ The findings have implications for managing the strategy-organizational fit concerning innovation in process industry. Originality/value ‐ The conventional view regarding R&D as a single entity ‐ either centralised or decentralised ‐ does not present a complete picture. This paper clarifies the link between strategic innovation determinants and the organisational configuration of R&D.