Title: Managing globally dispersed R&D teams

Authors: Hans J. Thamhain

Addresses: Bentley University, Waltham, MA 02452–4705, USA

Abstract: Companies look for partners that can perform the needed Research and Development (R&D) work better, cheaper and faster. This leads to alliances across the globe. Managing these geographically dispersed R&D efforts is especially challenging in technology-intensive joint ventures that involve complex work, risks and nonlinear development processes. While advances in collaborative technology, such as groupware and other IT-based tools, make multinational joint efforts increasingly more feasible, effective R&D team management involves a complex set of variables related to tasks, people, organisational environments and work processes which are examined in this paper via a field study of 27 high-technology companies operating across 14 countries. The results show that global R&D team leaders must understand more than just the work process and collaborative technology. They must also understand the infrastructure of their organisation and deal with the complex social, technical and economic issues that determine the culture and value system of the multinational enterprise. The drivers and barriers for effectively organising and managing global R&D teams are discussed, together with the criteria for managerial effectiveness.

Keywords: R&D alliances; team leadership; teamwork; collaborative technology; project management; research and development; global alliances; R&D joint ventures; managerial effectiveness; R&D management; multinational R&D.

DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2009.022273

International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 2009 Vol.8 No.1, pp.107 - 126

Published online: 25 Dec 2008 *

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