Keywords: collaboration, organisational learning, research and development management, SMEs, technology for business growth, New Zealand
Collaboration and organisational learning: a study of a New Zealand collaborative research program
Collaboration with a research partner is one strategy that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can pursue to counter their size-imposed research and development (R&D) resource and capacity constraints and to enhance their learning. The Technology for Business Growth (TBG) program supports collaborative R&D projects between New Zealand industry and research institutions. This research attempted to gauge the effects of participation in a collaborative project on broader aspects of organisational learning, on the industry managers' subsequent attitudes towards R&D, as well as managers' perceptions of success and failure factors for collaboration. The majority of managers stated that their attitude to R&D had not changed (it was already positive prior to the project). However, their organisations' attitude towards the management of R&D projects had often changed, with many companies adopting the practices of project evaluation and planning enforced by the TBG application process, thus providing considerable evidence that organisational learning had taken place. Objective measures of subsequent R&D activity, such as increased spending on, and number of, R&D projects and increased employment of technical staff provide further evidence that the companies' learning experiences with collaborative projects may have encouraged them to invest more readily in R&D.