Inderscience Publishers

Managing customer oriented research

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Insufficient technology transfer between research and its customers is one of the key weaknesses in industrial R&D. Since knowledge transfer to development and other corporate partners is the only raison d'etre for industrial research, R&D management should place more emphasis on developing the transfer capacity of its researchers. Based on analysis of more than 200 research interviews in 62 companies, we focus on the management interface between research scientists and development teams. We identify five principal dilemmas for managing customer oriented research: the short/long-term dilemma, simultaneity and uncertainty, surrender of project ownership, technocentricity and need fulfilment, specialisation and integration. These concepts are illustrated with five examples of R-to-D management at Siemens, ABB, General Electric, EGU, and Rolic. Although geographical, functional, and socio-behavioral distances call for a stronger consideration of research-development integration, research must retain a sufficient degree of independence. We propose a transfer oriented model for managing the R-to-D process, from what is possible to what is necessary. Aligning research activities with market requirements may be the only survival strategy for many corporate research centres.

Keywords: research management, customer orientation, R&, D organisation, long-term/short-term dilemma, technology transfer

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