The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 75–92

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



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 


  1. Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boardman, C. (2012). Organizational capital in boundary-spanning collaborations: Internal and external approaches to organizational structure and personnel authority. Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, 22, 497–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boardman, C., & Bozeman, B. (2007). Role strain in university research centers. The Journal of Higher Education, 78(4), 430–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boardman, C., & Gray, D. (2010). The new science and engineering management: Cooperative research centers as government policies, industry strategies, and organizations. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 35(5), 445–459.Google Scholar
  5. Boardman, C., & Ponomariov, B. (2007). Reward systems and NSF university research centers: The impact of tenure on university scientists’ valuation of applied and commercially-relevant research. The Journal of Higher Education, 78(1), 51–70.Google Scholar
  6. Bozeman, B., & Boardman, C. (2003). Managing the new multipurpose, multidiscipline university research center: Institutional innovation in the academic community. Washington, DC: IBM Endowment for the Business of Government.Google Scholar
  7. Bresnen, M., Goussevskaia, A., & Swan, J. (2004). Embedding new management knowledge in project-based organizations. Organizational Studies, 25(9), 1535–1555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Damanpour, F. (1996). Organizational complexity and innovation: Developing and testing multiple contingency models. Management Science, 42, 693–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dewar, R., & Dutton, J. E. (1986). The adoption of radical and incremental innovations: An empirical analysis. Management Science, 32, 1422–1433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dietz, J. S., & Bozeman, B. (2005). Academic careers, patents, and productivity: Industry experience as scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy, 34(3), 349–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ettlie, J., Bridges, W. P., & O’Keefe, R. D. (1984). Organization strategy and structural differences for radical versus incremental innovation. Management Science, 30(6), 682–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Feller, I., Ailes, C. P., & Roessner, J. D. (2002). Impacts of research universities on technological innovation in industry: Evidence from engineering research centers. Research Policy, 31, 457–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frankland, J., & Bloor, M. (1999). Some issues arising in the systematic analysis of focus group materials. In R. S. Barbour & J. Kitzinger (Eds.), Developing focus group research: Politics, theory and practice (pp. 144–155). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Geisler, E. (1989). University-industry relations: A review of major issues. In A. N. Link & G. Tassey (Eds.), Cooperative research and development: The industry-university-government relationship (pp. 43–64). Boston: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  15. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  16. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  17. Griliches, Z. (1992). The search for R&D spillovers. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 94, 29–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hobday, M. (2000). The project-based organization: An ideal form for managing complex products and systems? Research Policy, 29, 871–893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jaffe, A. B. (1989). Characterizing the ‘technological position’ of firms, with application to quantifying technological opportunity and research spillovers. Research Policy, 18(2), 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jaffee, A. B., Trajtenberg, M., & Henderson, R. (1993). Geographical localization of knowledge spillovers as evidenced by patent citations. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), 577–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koskinen, K. U. (2000). Tacit knowledge as a promoter of project success. European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 6, 41–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, T. W. (1999). Using qualitative methods in organizational research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Lindkvist, L. (2004). Governing project-based firms: Promoting market-like processes within hierarchies. Journal of Management and Governance, 8, 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maxwell, Joseph A. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Merton, R. K. (1957). On social structure and science. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science, 3(3), 398–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ouchi, W. G. (1980). Markets, bureaucracies, and clans. Administrative Science Quarterly, 25(1), 129–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Polanyi, M. (1962). The Republic of science: Its political and economic theory. Minerva, 1(54), 54–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Polanyi, G. (1966). Tacit dimension. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  31. Ponomariov, B., & Boardman, C. (2010). Influencing scientists’ collaboration and productivity patterns through new institutions: University research centers and scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy, 39(5), 613–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rethemeyer, K. R., & Hatmaker, D. M. (2008). Network management reconsidered: An inquiry into management of network structures in public sector service provision. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 18, 617–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ritchie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  35. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1997). Grounded theory in practice. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Sydow, J., & Windeler, A. (1998). Organizing and evaluating interfirm networks: A structurationist perspective on network processes and effectiveness. Organization Science, 9(3), 265–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research, design and methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Youtie, J., Libaers, D., & Bozeman, B. (2006). Institutionalization of university research centers: The case of the National Cooperative Program in Infertility Research. Technovation, 26(9), 1055–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Battelle Center for Science and Technology PolicyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public AdministrationUniversity of Texas-San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

Personalised recommendations