Managing Large Research and Development Programs

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Today’s society sorely needs the innovations that are the intended fruit of large institutions’ research and development programs. Yet, to date, the complicated process of R&D management holds a track record that is far from impressive.

The task of R&D managers is to channel and direct a complex process involving scientific, political, and social groups with differing values and goals. And this must be done in such a way as to preserve an environment that allows science to pursue knowledge efficiently, but also insures that the goals pursued are relevant to pressing social needs.

To discern why some programs are more successful in this task than others, the authors have studied nine R&D programs in two large organizations, both of which are embedded in complex social, economic, and political environments. These programs are:


Artificial Heart Research, Cancer Chemotherapy Research, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Research, Sickle Cell Anemia Research, Genetics Research


The No. 4 Electronic Switching System, The High Capacity Mobile Telephone, Millimeter Wavelength Transmission, The D-4 Digital Channel Bank

The study not only examines the organizational and technical aspects of each program, but also considers their political environments. The authors also explore the historical origins of each program and its evolution, seeking in-depth understanding through interviews with relevant actors and analyses of documentary evidence of decisions, events, and the paths to them.

The cases selected bring out the important dimensions and issues in both public and private R&D management. The authors have illuminated logical patterns in the management process that can produce desired results. The book features a model that will prove useful to managers and students of research and development.
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About the author

Henry W. Lane is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario.

Rodney G. Beddows is Managing Director of Strategy Research Associates Ltd., London.

Paul R. Lawrence is Donham Professor of Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School.

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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 1981
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Best For
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Technology & Engineering / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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