The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 75-92

First online:

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

  • Craig BoardmanAffiliated withJohn Glenn School of Public Affairs, Battelle Center for Science and Technology Policy, The Ohio State University Email author 
  • , Branco PonomariovAffiliated withDepartment of Public Administration, University of Texas-San Antonio

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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.


University research center cooperative research center University-industry interaction Technology transfer Research collaboration Team science Organized research unit R&D management

JEL Classification

O31 O32 O38