Since the publication of Prahalad and Hamel's (1990) seminal paper on core competencies, leveraging technological competencies has become a topic in the resource-based literature. This paper focuses on the creation of combinative capabilities and explains the logic of leveraging resources by combining them. Furthermore, the paper explains on which company levels combinations can be expected to occur and how firms can apply combinations to commercial ends. A case study illustrates one possible way for firms to support such combinations and describes how companies can develop a new organisational form for R&D that is more able to overcome the limitations of functional and divisional forms of RD.
Research and development at the nanoscale requires a large degree of integration, from convergence of research disciplines in new fields of enquiry to new linkages between start-ups, regional actors and research facilities. Based on the analysis of two clusters in nanotechnologies (MESA+ (Twente) and other centres in The Netherlands and Minatec in Grenoble in France), the paper discusses the phenomenon of technological agglomeration: co-located scientific and technological fields associated to coordinated technology platforms to some extent actively shaped by institutional entrepreneurs. Such co-location and coordination are probably a prerequisite for the emergence of strong nanoclusters
We here argue that patent brokers do not only stay in between supply and demand of innovation, but play in between executing complex transactions and taking entrepreneurial risk. In doing so they serve a support function to R&D managers of firms adopting various approaches to technological change. We discuss how economic and sociological theories explain brokerage and its existence. Our qualitative analysis of the current practice of patent brokerage in the U.S. finds only partial evidence in support of such argumentations. We conclude with our own proposition, suggesting that even in very dense environments, the bridging role of intellectual property intermediaries is that of market makers, who leverage their specific investment to play in between technology demand and supply.
The ‘Dual Ladder’ reward system has been used for years by industry as an incentive system to motivate technical performance. Its effectiveness has been called into question on many occasions. The paper will report the results of a survey of nearly 1,500 engineers and scientists in nine U.S. organizations. In this survey, engineers were asked to indicate their career preferences in terms of increasing managerial responsibility, technical ladder advancement or more interesting technical work. Responses indicate marked age-dependent differences in response, particularly a strong increase in the proportion preferring more interesting project work over either form of advancement.Conversations which one of the authors has had recently with managers of the thirteenth company question its status as an exception.
Product users are not usually thought of as product innovators. We have found, however, that 67|X% of the significant process equipment innovations in the two fields of semiconductor manufacture and electronic subassembly manufacture were in fact developed by equipment users rather than equipment manufacturers. Our analysis of the process by which these user innovations are transferred to the first firm to manufacture them commercially shows three major patterns: 46|X% transferred by multiple user-manufacturer interactions; 21|X% transferred via a direct purchase order from the inventive user; 8|X% manufactured by a user firm for commercial sale. A final 25|X%, we found, were apparently not transferred, but were reinvented by the equipment manufacturing firm.Inventive user firms and adopting equipment manufacturing firms are characterized, and the implications of our findings discussed.
Partnerships and external knowledge acquisition have become important means for gaining access to the increasing number of technologies needed for the development of more advanced products especially in emerging and dynamic industries. A good example is the fast expanding computer software industry where linkages are many and important.This is an empirical study of linkages and their relative importance in different stages of the software development process. The amount of new knowledge generated though different sources and differences between different types of software, such as packaged and customised software, are analysed. The analysis draws on case studies of 92 mostly European software projects, and a pilot study of four projects. It shows the length, type, and relative importance of 718 linkages in the software development process. The data collected shows that there are important differences between tangible hardware and software projects when it comes to the importance of the various linkages and the knowledge acquired
Nurturing and growing innovative start-ups has become an important point on the political agenda. However, many financial schemes and incubation initiatives that were started up in the mid-nineties were cancelled or down scaled after the dot com bubble. There was a consensus that innovative start-ups need more than just money. Networking and coaching were identified as additional needs. Moreover, the intensity and nature of these needs change over along the different stages of the early life cycle. In this paper we make an in depth study of three approaches to nurture and grow innovative start-ups. Each of these initiatives is also embedded in a totally different national innovation system: Sitra in Finland, Chalmers in Sweden and Anvar/Banque de Développement des PMEs in France. A comparison is made of each approach in terms of its financing, networking and coaching support, along the different stages of the start-up life cycle.
The paper summarizes the results of interviews, primarily with the R & D manager, in 43 chemical companies in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.K. covering questions concerned with the background and attitude of various levels of management and their interaction with R & D. The results are presented in quantitative and qualitative terms, and differences between various categories of chemical industry and between various national practices are discussed.
Problem areas currently receiving attention in the literature are discussed. It is suggested that considerable effort will be needed before much of the theory will be translated into practice. In certain areas it is argued that methods which have been proposed in the past have not been based on adequate descriptions of the real problems. A plea is made for more research into the research process and for more empirical testing and validation of the methods and procedures which have been proposed as aids to research managers.
Technology analysis is a new field of knowledge aimed at creating a fuller understanding of the technological setting within which business operates. It provides a macro-discipline and is specifically aimed at improving the effectiveness of management of technology. As such it is of direct relevance to R&D management.The essential tools of technology analysis constitute a set of analytical frameworks covering aspects such as: (i) a common approach to describing individual technological artefacts, (ii) a taxonomy of technologies, (iii) a classification of technological trends, (iv) a chart of technological limits, and (v) a socio-technical preference profile.These frameworks help the R&D manager to dissect and debate typical R&D management problems such as: (i) selecting R&D projects, (ii) setting broad R&D objectives in the case of a given project and (iii) setting specific R&D goals to meet the said objectives. The frameworks also help the R&D manager to portray and present research achievements within a simple and intuitively appealing framework.
The most important families of R&D project evaluation and selection methodologies and associated techniques are briefly reviewed. For each family, generally one or two methods were chosen to be analysed from the point of view of the integration with the strategy. But, first some definitions and some aspects of the new strategic role of the evaluation and selection of R&D projects, which were in mind during the interviews, are presented.Finally, some empirical results of the use of these methodologies in France and Japan are presented. The strong and weak points of the most prevalent methods are described as they are considered by the users.
During the period 1968–1972 several projects which were initiated in Agricultural Division Research & Development Department were studied in some depth, the main objective being to try to establish the reasons for the successes and the failures. A set of six precepts (AGCAST criteria) likely to lead to success was derived from these studies. These precepts were then combined with six precepts resulting from the SAPPHO study of industrial innovation. From 1973 onwards the twelve precepts were applied; firstly to studies of finished projects, with a saving in the effort required, secondly to two ‘live’ projects which were examined so as to make suggestions for improving the management of these projects. Unfortunately, both projects were abandoned before the suggestions could be applied.Use has also been made of case studies and the AGCAST/ SAPPHO list in the design of an internal course for project managers. This is arguably the most valuable application of these studies.
The new Patents Act which came into force on June 1st 1978 contains radical provisions on the remuneration of employee inventors who are now under certain conditions entitled to a share of the benefits flowing from any outstanding inventions they may make. The reaction of industry has in general been unfavourable and as a questionnaire survey of a sample of British industry taken mainly from the Times Top 1000 companies suggests, there appears to have been some lethargy in taking adequate steps to meet the requirements of the new Law. This short note outlines the changes with regard to the reward for employee inventions, examines the possible effects of the new legislation, and discusses the actions that companies should make and are making.
Respondents claimed that European effort on basic research rnay have so diminished that the long-term competitiveness of its industries is endangered. They saw a major role for the Commission in redressing this imbalance. There was little support for Commission sponsorship of applied industrial research. Some respondents felt that this could even be counter-productive by diluting effort in areas seen as important by industrial management. A role was seen for the commission in supporting more research on the legislative context and general environment in which industry operates (‘contextual research’). The need for such research imposes a growing burden on industry and diverts scarce resources from work directly related to competitiveness.A study sponsored by the Commission of the European Communities aimed to identify the types of R & D activity in aid of European industry that the Commission might support over the next three or four years. The findings are based on interviews with senior managers from some fifty firms, representing eight sectors of manufacturing industry in five European countries.
In this paper we survey collaborations on research by 22 of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world. In particular, we discuss the benefits and costs of collaborations on research and we review the existing literature on these issues. We present data for these major research-oriented pharmaceutical firms focusing on collaborations that deal with research, the technologies associated with these collaborations, and the firms that collaborate with these 22 multi-nationals.
Not only is technology changing rapidly, but the process of the commercialisation of technological change—the industrial innovation process—is changing also. The paper traces developments in the dominant perceived model of industrial innovation from the simple linear ‘technology push’ and ‘need pull’ models of the 1960s and early 1970s, through the ‘coupling model’ of the late 1970s to early 1980s, to the ‘integrated’ model of today. The latter (the 4th Generation innovation process) marked a shift from perceptions of innovation as a strictly sequential process to innovation perceived as a largely parallel process. This shift owed much to observations of innovation processes in leading Japanese corporations. Recent developments indicate the possibilities attainable in the proposed ‘strategic integration and networking’ model, elements of which are already in place. According to this 5th generation model, innovation is becoming faster; it increasingly involves inter-company networking; and it employs a new electronic toolkit (expert systems and simulation modelling).
The last 10 years have seen a number of changes taking place in the management of publicly funded research institutions. Some have been transferred wholesale to the private sector, some closed and most encouraged to diversify their sources of funding. One management approach is that of the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO). In this approach, the assets of the institute remain in state ownership but the responsibility of managing the institute and its research programmes is passed to a private sector management company. The UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has been managed under such an arrangement since 1995. NPL is responsible for the physical measurement standards which underpin much of the UK industrial base.
Developing new products and processes is increasingly a focal point of competition and often requires the development and successful implementation of novel process technologies. The process development and production of a new biological entity are significantly more complex than those for small molecule drugs. Conventional new product development models in the literature on firm level innovation fail to explain the nature of development projects for biopharmaceuticals. This paper makes the case that a new perspective is required to understand the management of product and process development in biopharmaceuticals. An explanatory model is proposed for this purpose.
Purchasing is evolving into a strategic business activity and thus also a potential contributor to the successful development of new products. However, the literature on the involvement of purchasing in new product development (NPD) is sorely lacking. We conducted an exploratory study to investigate purchasing’s involvement in NPD, the drivers of this involvement and the influence on new product success. We conducted telephone interviews with purchasing and NPD managers from 43 firms. The results show that firms differ in the extent to which they involve purchasing in NPD and that higher involvement has a positive effect on NPD performance. R&D managers can use the results to design a more effective purchasing–R&D interface and increase the success of NPD.
It was found that, as a rule, firms decide upon individual projects and do not specify in advance a fixed level for the R & D budget. The decision about individual R & D projects and/or the R & D budget was most frequently made by the president of the company.The implication of our results for various kinds of research on the economics of R & D are discussed.Questionnaires were sent out to 124 large Swedish firms, asking how they determined budgets for research and development (R & D) and who decided about the size of these budgets. 94 firms answered and 69 of these undertook R & D.
G. Hofstede's research on ‘Culture's Consequences’ (1980) greatly shaped the discussion of cross-cultural differences in management theory and practice during the 1980′s. And yet, his 4-D Model's applicability to the management of R&D laboratories and their professionals worldwide remained in doubt due to the fact that his four dimensions of Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism, and Masculinity were derived from responses of mid-level IBM employees with lower levels of formal education than those of typical R&D professionals. This paper reports on results of the first comprehensive follow-up study that (1) show Hofstede's four dimensions to be equally valid for highly educated respondents from 17 Western European countries, Turkey, and the USA, (2) describe significant similarities between the respondents’ work goals and those of R&D professionals, and (3) suggest implications of cross-cultural differences along the dimensions for the theory and practice of managing R&D professionals abroad.
The main purpose of this study is to examine the effects of knowledge attribute, alliance characteristics, and firm's absorptive capacity on the performance of knowledge transfer. Regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses in a sample of 137 alliance cases. The findings suggest that knowledge transfer performance is positively affected by the explicitness of knowledge and firm's absorptive capacity; that equity-based alliance will transfer tacit knowledge more effectively while contract-base alliance is more effective for the transfer of explicit knowledge; and that trust and adjustment have positive effects while conflict possesses a curvilinear effect on knowledge transfer performance.
This case study examines a global pharmaceutical company widely using open innovation (OI). Three main research questions are addressed: (1) what OI concepts are salient in their innovation portfolio?, (2) what OI concepts are used in the strategy formulation? and (3) what other concepts are present that augment OI? Interviews with 120 managers and archival documents were analyzed using thematic analysis. Two concepts prominent in the literature, (i) value capture models and (ii) technology evaluation criteria, were not present in this portfolio. By contrast, we found a focus on OI capability building, external information sharing and uncertain knowledge arbitrage in networks. Finally, we discuss these capabilities in relation to absorptive capacity, proposing a simple, but important bi-directional perspective to embrace OI.
Many organizations are at the present time faced with two problems. First, what are the events that are likely to have important implications for their activities in future time periods? Second, what new areas should they consider entering and how can they make quick appraisal of the potential in such areas? There are no easy answers to either of these questions but a number of methods have been proposed which have been found to be of assistance. This paper outlines an approach based on the use of abstracting services which can provide useful information quickly and inexpensively.
The paper treats the topic of long range planning in an applied research oriented university unit. The advantages and disadvantages of the relevance of planning in an academic frame are considered, and the need for a formal long-term consideration of the development of an academic research unit is presented. Endogenous and exogenous attributes of future desirable fields of research are determined. The desired attributes are translated into selection criteria and quantitative indicators. A compensatory type methodology for decision-making is applied in order to rank potential areas of research. An example of the application of the proposed methodology for selecting directions of development for an applied chemistry academic unit (Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is presented and the results are discussed.
Successful innovation requires both products and product champions. Evidence suggests that academic projects are usually not products and few academics are able or willing to champion adequately their projects. Thus the role of university technology transfer officers and of university innovation centres is to find efficient ways of transforming research projects into potentially profitable products and also to obtain credible commitments from capable champions.
In this paper a framework of university-industry interactions is discussed. The presence or absence of academic entrepreneurial behaviour is considered as a basic variable in distinguishing a host of transfer mechanisms. As a hypothesis it is stated that university-industry interactions are hampered by three types of barriers: cultural, institutional and operational.This framework is then applied to the Belgian university system. The relative importance of different groups of transfer mechanisms is described. Particular attention is given to the barriers occurring during licensing arrangements and entrepreneurial ventures. A mix of cultural, institutional and operational barriers helps to explain why licensing arrangements and entrepreneurial ventures occur at present less frequently then the assistance mechanisms.
Studies indicate that most European new, technology–based firms (NTBFs) have been founded by relatively senior, highly–educated personnel coming from existing companies. These founders already have strong, industry and market links. A relatively small proportion have spun out of university or other public research facilities. However, this latter group has attracted particular attention from several interested groups, including governments and the scientific establishment. For governments, this has appeared to offer a means whereby public policy could have a direct and significant impact on economic development. Hence substantial public resources are increasingly being committed to support these developments in most industrialised countries. The founders of HEI spinouts are often academics aiming to commercialise nascent technologies and they face challenges which are less likely to arise for the founder with an industry background. The emerging technologies often commercialised in academic spinouts may have many potential applications. At the outset founders must make critical strategic choices of applications to develop, if they are to attract the substantial resources often needed for the risky development process. Some of these choices need an understanding of changing fashions in business models and investors’ current preferences for particular industries. It is a difficult challenge for academic founders with little prior market knowledge and linkages, and no previous experience of professional investors and their requirements, to select the applications and business models which will support successful venture creation. This paper explores a number of key issues which surround these decisions and their relation to the changing business environment. It is concluded that the acceptability of novel technologies and products is mediated by systemic interactions which are ill–understood by industry and government.
Scientific and technological knowledge is considered the most important raw material for economic growth. The attention on the exploitation of public research, undoubtedly one of the main sources of new scientific and technological knowledge, has increased in recent years. After reviewing some concepts regarding the exploitation of public research results, the paper focuses on the analysis of academic spin-off companies as one of the most promising ways to transfer research results to the market place. The phenomenon of academic spin-off companies is described using both international evidence and a recent survey regarding 48 Italian spin-off companies.
Evaluation of the research management literature identified key issues relevant for managing academic interdisciplinary research projects. Based on these issues, a nationwide survey of American academic interdisciplinary research projects was made to determine the extent and form of these literature issues in practice. Similarities and differences between literature claims and research findings are presented, together with comparisons between academic interdisciplinary research and other forms of group research.
In this paper, we elaborate on how academic R&D can be managed as a business. Based on the case of K.U. Leuven Research and Development, it is shown how an academic institution can develop the context, structure and processes conducive to managing academic R&D as a business. It is argued that universities that intend to take advantage of the economic opportunities of their R&D programmes, should leverage their innovation potential through appropriate strategies, organizational structures and management processes that allow them to manage part of their R&D portfolio as a business without hampering though the fundamental academic values and activities of research and teaching. This balancing act has been the responsibility of K.U. Leuven Research and Development for the last 28 years. It is the subject of the case study reported in this paper.
One practical result of the advent of the knowledge society has been an increased reliance on academic-industry partnerships as important sources for the creation of economic value. This paper argues that this renewed emphasis on knowledge has led to a shift in the nature of the relations between the academy and industry from sponsorship to partnership and the formation of new research institutions that allow researchers and practitioners to engage in continuous rather than problem based dialogue. These developments are illustrated by providing a case study based on the experience of one research team with its industrial partners. The paper presents results pertaining to some of the issues and challenges raised by continuous dialogue in partnerships, and emphasises the creative yet demanding implications of close collaboration between the two communities.
AbstractA framework is presented within which can be analysed the timeliness factor that partially governs the receptivity to innovative technical ideas of industrial organizations. A partial analysis is performed within this framework. This suggests certain conclusions which might assist in the marketing of by-product or 'spin-off’ technical ideas.
Debate on the Rothschild report having become concentrated on the future of the Research Councils, there has been relatively little analysis of the wider implications of the core issue of the report, ‘accountability’ versus ‘independence’, This article offers a preliminary assessment of these two concepts, and especially of ‘accountability’. It is shown that while Rothschild's ‘customer-contractor principle’ is likely to present new and serious difficulties for government departments, it may also lead to an important strengthening in their capabilities. The essay seeks overall to initiate a full discussion of the procedures associated with the principle and underlines the need for further detailed consideration of the accountability-independence balance.
Very little is known about the information used by managers to evaluate, plan and control R&D alliances. This paper focuses on the R&D accounting numbers that may be used and points to their inherent limitations and their potential to mislead. Alliance partners, in particular, need a clear agreement on the activities they include in R&D and on the costs they attribute to those activities.
The convention currently in place (SSAP 13 revised) to account formally for industrial R&D expenditure is that qualifying development expenditure meeting strict viability criteria may be capitalised (treated as an asset) but that all other development and all research must be immediately expensed (written off). This study comprising interviews and postal responses was carried out to investigate the effect this convention has on managerial actions and decisions on R&D investment by companies, particularly by smaller high-technology ones.
This study of the accuracy of cost and duration estimates, both initial and intermediate, for industrial R&D projects, is based mainly on analysis of the records of 475 projects in four varying research organizations. Mean ratios of actual to estimated cost ranging from 0.97 to 1.51 are obtained, and mean ratios of actual to estimated duration from 1.39 to 3.04. The results are generally similar to those of other British and American studies, with which they are compared.There is no evidence that the information gained as projects progress enables their future cost and duration to be estimated more accurately; at best, the accuracy of such estimates remains constant. No effect of project size on estimate accuracy is found; effects of project length on accuracy, and of time (i.e. increasing experience) on accuracy are found only in one organization each. The pattern of expenditure over time is examined, and found on average to be not far from linear, though with wide individual project variations.When the individual project ratios are reduced by constant factors representing optimistic or pessimistic bias (derived from the mean ratios, and assumed to be characteristic of the firm), and then subjected to a log transformation to make their distribution more symmetrical, the remaining variation, which is a measure of the inaccuracy of estimation for the individual projects, is closely similar in the four organizations, and not greatly different in the organizations covered by other studies when the data are similarly treated.
In recent years many formal attempts, e.g. Baker & Pound, (1964), have been made to help R & D management assess the worth of R & D projects and select those most worthy of inclusion in the R & D programme. Most of these attempts are based on financial appraisals of a project's worth and require estimates of the costs and likely revenues that will result from the adoption of a given project. It is clear, therefore, that the validity of any measure of a worth for a project is dependent upon the accuracy of the estimates of cost and revenue associated with that project. Unfortunately the limited amount of evidence so far presented suggests, in particular, that cost estimates are extremely inaccurate.In this paper, therefore, we try to add some further evidence on forecast accuracy for a number of industrial R & D projects. We begin with a short review of the existing literature evidence and continue with an analysis of the past effectiveness of R & D work and, in particular, of forecast accuracy.
Some of the main results of a study of the accuracy of cost and duration estimates in this laboratory have already been published. This short article adds some further information about the accuracy of duration estimates for stages of projects (as opposed to whole projects), and about the reasons for upward revisions of duration estimates.
In this study we analyse the effect of team diversity, encouragement to take risks and team incentives on the degree of radicalness of innovation. Empirical research has been conducted with a sample of 95 companies from four innovative industries according to their high number of patents. The results indicate that team diversity and the combined use of long- and short-term incentives are associated with incremental innovation, whereas the development of risk-taking attitudes within the team is associated with radical innovation.
A number of hypotheses are stated relating company technical sector success in the generation of new products to factors at the R & D/ Production Interface. Statistical differences and correlations between these factors are used to evaluate the hypotheses.The results suggest a strong link between productivity and expenditure per head in the R & D function, the unique fitness of the German Ing. Grad. engineer for the role of Project Manager and the importance to U. K. industry of project integration, flexibility of operation, absence of status consciousness and clarity of problem definition.
Research on how managers control R&D activities has tended to focus on the performance measurement systems used to exploit existing knowledge and capabilities. This focus has been at the expense of how broader forms of management control could be used to enable R&D contextual ambidexterity, the capacity to attain appropriate levels of exploitation and exploration behaviors in the same R&D organizational unit. In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework for understanding how different types of control system, guided by different R&D strategic goals, can be used to induce and balance both exploitation and exploration. We illustrate the elements of this framework and their relations using data from biotechnology firms, and then discuss how the framework provides a basis to empirically examine a number of important control relationships and phenomena.
In this paper, results are presented of an empirical study of the Lake Constance region covering a sample of 848 manufacturing companies. Based upon multivariate analyses, the paper documents that the mobilization of external resources and know-how is a critical factor for a firm's technological innovation success which in turn is the main determinant of commercial innovation success. The findings show that there are three kinds of technology-oriented external relationships, which prove to be of special importance: close contacts with customers, linkages to universities and research institutes and R&D-cooperations with other companies.
Dynamic changes within global markets are creating a need for different strategies for firms in the pursuit of competitive advantage. International technology alliances are one mode of organising the acquisition of competitive technologies which is especially important in technology-intensive industries. However, managers have an especially difficult challenge when trying to deal with problems of high technical risk, frequent changes in technologies, different cultural and managerial styles and perspectives. This article addresses these issues as it examines the planning and implementation of the international technology alliance between Rover and Honda, during the past fourteen years. By most criteria used, this alliance was highly successful, and the article discusses not only the areas of successful technical impact which the alliance had on these companies, but also the insights learned by Rover from the management process of the alliance. It also develops a framework of issues which managers can use to implement and manage international technology alliances.
The paper focuses on several research questions: How do the firms differ in terms of their strategic objectives for foreign acquisitions? What are the determinants of ‘success’ of acquisition? What are the differences between the American and German firms in terms of their acquisition strategies and successes?Our special interest was to get a closer look into the technological motive of the foreign acquisitions. This made a two-step procedure necessary. A first survey of 86 firms had to identify those acquisitions which were motivated by technological interests through a questionnaire. Findings: There are four classes of companies with different motives for acquisitions: Market oriented entrepreneurs, Short-term profit seekers, Technological acquirers, Preemptive market protectors.The second survey investigated the process and the results of acquisitions with a special view on the role of research and development through 60 interviews in 30 acquisition cases in both acquiring and acquired units. Findings: A network of variables explains the success. The most important are context variables (uncertainty, cultural differences), size of both firms, low degree of formalization, expertise, and lack of conflicts about technological philosophy.