, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 75-92

Management knowledge and the organization of team science in university research centers

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Abstract

Increasingly, principal investigators are tasked by funding agencies not only to expand knowledge in a particular field of inquiry, but also to manage and coordinate sets of diverse actors, including researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds and with different institutional affiliations. This paper addresses how principal investigators organize and manage sets of diverse researchers in university research centers. The premise of the paper is that centers possessing “management knowledge”—as embodied in principal investigators themselves and in colleagues and subordinates (e.g. past experiences in centers, industry, formal management training and professional experience)—will demonstrate different structural and managerial characteristics when compared to centers without management knowledge. Based on interviews and documents for a purposive sample of centers established by the US National Science Foundation, the study investigates the organization and management of centers as a function of the presence and type of management knowledge of the center directors across multiple cases. Implications for addressing common challenges to team science in university research centers and comparable arrangements are discussed.