Title: Dedicated versus dispersed applied research organisation: implications for technology development and internal transfer to product development

Authors: Dennis Nobelius

Addresses: Department of Operations Management and Work Organisation, Vasa Building 3, Floor 3, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract: The emerging trend of more frequent product introductions, combined with the push towards ||manageable|| development projects and challenges related to an increasing technology complexity, puts immense pressure on the R&D units of today. One approach to the proactive reduction of uncertainty and preparation for rapid product development is to separate applied research tasks from product development. This paper analyses how two different organisational structures for applied research affect technology development and transfer abilities. This issue is explored by analysing the performance levels of these two structures (one focused, dedicated structure, and one spread, more dispersed structure) along different efficiency dimensions in a Swedish automotive company. The research set-up has been based on a combinatory approach, using interviews, site participation, and a survey (779 individuals, 69% response rate). The findings suggest that the dedicated structure has proven to be an efficient way of developing new technology, whilst bearing in mind the increased needs of integration mechanisms for transferring technology downstream. The dispersed structure does not succeed to the same extent when developing new technologies; however, the structure seems to be beneficial in terms of knowledge sharing and technology transfer. Moreover, a challenge to the dedicated structure involves avoiding being dubbed a ||myopic pursuer||, and for the dispersed structure ||integrative fire-fighters||.

Keywords: automotive industry; applied research; organisational structure; technology development; knowledge transfer; commercialisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2002.001787

International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, 2002 Vol.1 No.3, pp.249-267

Available online: 18 Aug 2003 *

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