Between Autonomy and Control: The role of industrial researchers’ decision-making
This paper deals with issues related to management of industrial research. The overall research question is how industrial researchers can be managed to increase the company’s benefits. The relevance of this question is put into perspective by two main considerations. On the one hand, it is widely recognized that individual researchers should possess a high level of autonomy to preserve the ability of research to renew itself. On the other hand, companies need to maintain control over that freedom to develop their research activities in a long-term company perspective. The paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the management of industrial research by moving the focus from risk management and portfolio planning (decision and control based management) to management in situations marked by high uncertainty and asymmetric distribution of information (management of self-governing systems). More specifically, the evolutionary perspective on individual adaptation is used in combination with evolutionary economics to create an analytical framework for understanding managerial action in industrial research. This framework, is used to explain how managers can try to increase the probability that individual research processes create results, which eventually increase the fit of the company to its environment. It is argued that research managers can, to a certain extent, influence the complex processes of individual adaptation by influencing individual decision making through a) setting and communicating research specific goals and b) creating and maintaining shared cognitive frames.
Autonomy; Control; Industrial research; Decision-making; Research management; Managment of industrial research
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