Managing collaborative R&D projects development of a practical management tool

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    research has identied a range of management success factors, little attention has been given to how such knowledge could be appliedin the everyday context of a collaborative project. Based on case studies by the authors involving the automotive and aerospace indus-

    collaboration between academia and industry, as a means on both this extensive body of knowledge and case study

    collaboration revealed a number of success factors whichare essentially generic, being applicable across a wide rangeof collaborative formats, e.g. strategic alliances, joint ven-tures, research consortia [46] and industry sectors, e.g.,biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronics, telecommuni-cations, information technology, automotive engineering,

    * Corresponding author. Address: International Manufacturing Centre(IMC), University of Warwick, Coventry, West Midlands CV4 7AL, UK.Tel.: +44 24 7652 3785.

    E-mail address: (T.A. Barnes).1 Presently Professor of Manufacturing Processes at Nottingham


    International Journal of Project Mana

    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OFof improving innovation eciency and thereby enhancingwealth creation [1]. However, collaborations between oftendiverse organisations are dicult to manage [2] and the cul-tural dierences between academia and industry presentparticular diculties [3]. Thus, the contrast between anincreasing prevalence of universityindustry collaborativeR&D projects and equally prevalent reports of failure,has driven considerable research in the identication ofmanagement success factors [3,4].

    work. The framework tool is then tested through a furthercase study involving the food and drink industry.

    2. The current body of knowledge

    It has been suggested that the key to successful collabo-ration lies in the way in which they are managed [5]; a viewwhich is reected throughout the literature, in the identi-cation of a wide range of management success factors. Areview of published research concerning industryindustrytries, this paper reports on the development of a management tool designed to provide practical guidance on the eective management ofcollaborative R&D projects. 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Universityindustry; Collaborative R&D; Success factors; Cultural gap; Partner evaluation; Project management; Good practice model;Management framework/tool

    1. Introduction

    Against a background of increasing international com-petition and rapid technological change, the UK govern-ment has, since the 1980s, been actively encouraging

    However, very little work has been done pertaining tohow this knowledge could be applied in practice, to bringabout improvements in collaboration management. Thispaper reports on the development of a framework for theeective management of collaborative R&D projects, basedManaging collaborative R&practical man

    T.A. Barnes *, I.R. P

    Warwick Manufacturing Group, School of Engi

    Received 19 November 2004; received in revi


    In an environment of globalisation, intense competition and ristaining technological growth. However, there are many diculties i0263-7863/$30.00 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.03.003projects development of agement tool

    by 1, A.M. Gibbons

    ring, The University of Warwick, England, UK

    form 10 June 2005; accepted 20 March 2006

    R&D costs, collaboration has become an essential means of sus-rent in managing projects across organisational boundaries. While

    gement 24 (2006) 395404


  • aerospace, and oil-exploration [3,5,7]. These success fac-tors can be categorised into a series of themes, Fig. 1. Forexample, Fig. 1 shows that the choice of partner themeincludes compatibility of culture and mode of operationas a success factor. Since incompatibilities between compa-nies often result in misunderstandings, suspicion and con-ict [7]. The theme referred to as universal success factorsdiers from the others in that it is less specic, consistingof factors such as exibility and commitment which areregarded as having an all-pervading inuence across all ele-ments and all stages of the life cycle of a collaborativeproject.

    By contrast, research concerning universityindustry col-laboration has concentrated primarily on the existence andeects of the so-called cultural gap [3]. The factors iden-tied included conicts over ownership of intellectual prop-erty (IP), academic freedom to publish, and dierences ofpriorities, time horizons and areas of research focus. How-ever, aside from the cultural issues, a UK study by Engi-neering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)[8], revealed ndings that were similar to those reportedfor industryindustry collaborations, thus indicating thatan overlap existed between (management) factors aecting

    3. Case study research

    Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) has, since itsfoundation in 1980, established a substantial involvementin and a reputation for collaborative research with indus-try. Since the primary focus of this work is on collabora-tive R&D, six collaborative research projects involvingWMG and a number of industrial partners were thereforeselected for study as part of a multiple-case researchdesign.

    The study was designed to test the inuence that thesuccess factors identied in the literature had on theoutcome in each case. Five of the six case studies werepart of a large collaborative programme involvingWMG and some 25 companies from the automotiveindustry. These projects were therefore set-up in a verysimilar way, but were each perceived very dierently interms of success or failure, making them appropriatesubjects for studying the eects of management successfactors. The sixth case extended the study to the aero-space industry, providing an opportunity to investigatethe inuence of the management success factors acrosstwo dierent industries [9].




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    396 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404the success of industryindustry collaborations and thoseof universityindustry collaborations.

    This suggests that good practice knowledge from bothelds can be combined into a comprehensive model forthe success of universityindustry collaborations. However,this hypothesis needed to be tested. A series of case studieswere therefore conducted in order to identify and classifyfactors found to aect the success of universityindustrytechnological collaborations.

    Choice of PartnerCompatibility of culture/mode of operationMutual understandingComplementaryexpertise/strengthsPast collaboration partnersHigh quality staffShared vision/strategic importanceComplementary aimsNo hidden agendasCollaborative experience

    Project ManagerProject management trainingDiplomacyTrack record & experience incollaborationMulti-functional experience

    Project ManageClearly defined oClearly defined reMutually agreed Realistic aimsAdequate resourDefined project mSimple collaboraRegular progressEffective commuEnsuring collabo

    Ensuring EqualMutual benefitEquality of poweEquality of contri

    Monitoring EnviroMarket needCorporate stabilityFig. 1. Management success factoIn each of the cases studied, project participants fromthe collaborating companies, academic researchers, andwhere applicable, any technical sta having direct involve-ment in the projects, were subject to questionnaire-struc-tured interviews. The interview data was supplementedby documentation in the form of minutes of progressmeetings, company records and direct observation of pro-ject progress meetings, in order to ensure adequate trian-gulation of evidence [10].


    onsibilitiesect plan

    tones agreementnitoringtionrs deliver


    ental Influences

    Universal Success FactorsMutual trustCommitment Good personal relationshipsCollaboration championContinuityLearningFlexibilityLeadershiprs identied from the literature.

  • 3.1. Data analysis

    The approach taken in organising and analysing the datawas to group responses pertaining to the same or similarissues into categories, allowing major themes to emergefrom the data collected. This technique proved eective inidentifying the main issues and patterns of similarities anddierences within and across cases [10,11]. For clarity, theanalysis concentrated on only the most frequently citedissues, which were assumed to be themost signicant, Fig. 1.

    3.2. Main ndings

    3.2.1. Identied similaritiesThe study revealed substantial commonality between

    management factors found to have an impact on collabo-ration success in the six cases, and the success factorsidentied in previous studies of industryindustry techno-logical collaborations, Fig. 2. The ndings therefore sup-port the hypothesis that factors found to inuence thesuccess of industryindustry collaborations also apply tothe universityindustry case. Furthermore, the study alsoprovided evidence of diculties associated with the acade-miaindustry cultural gap. It can therefore be con-cluded that while managing the academiaindustrycultural gap is important in universityindustry collabora-tions, success relies upon a much broader range of man-

    3.2.2. Identied dierences

    Fig. 2 also incorporates a number of success factorswhich were not found to have been critical to the successof the case study projects (those shown outside the shadedarea). This is to be expected since these success factors wereidentied from a wide range of research into a number ofdierent types of collaboration. While these managementsuccess factors are essentially generic and all-pervading,certain factors will necessarily prove more critical in sometypes of collaboration than others, as a result of the verydierent purposes, circumstances and characteristics ofeach type. This work will therefore focus only on factorsrelevant to research collaborations involving universityand industrial partners.

    4. A good practice model

    Based on the case study research and the literature, thegood practice model presented below (Fig. 3) represents aculmination of the total body of knowledge with respectto collaboration management, with a specic focus onresearch collaborations involving academia and industry.

    Fig. 3 also indicates where links exist between the majorthemes or categories of success factors. The researchshowed that the applicability of each category of successfactors changes over the life cycle of a typical collaborativeproject. For example, success factors associated with




    T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404 397agement factors.

    Choice of Partner

    Market need Corporate stability

    Environmental Factors

    Leadership Differing time prioritiesStaff secondment Publishing in public domainIPR Academic laissez-faire

    approachIndustrial lack of flexibility

    Cultural Gap

    Factors Common to Liter

    Compatibility of culture/ Complimentary expertisemode of operation Past collaborative partners Mutual understanding Strategic importanceHigh quality staff Complimentary aims

    No hidden agendasCollaborative experienceFig. 2. Commonality between the literature andChoice of partner are most applicable at the beginning of

    rly defined objectives Simple collaborative agreementr defined responsibilities

    ually agreed project planlistic aimsquate resourcesned project milestonesular progress monitoringctive communicationsuring collaborators deliverd project manager

    Project Management

    Mutual benefit Equality of power/Equality of contribution dependency

    Ensuring Equality

    utual trust Good personal relationshipsommitment Flexibilityontinuity Collaboration championeamwork Leadership


    Universal Success Factors

    re & Case Studiesfactors identied from case study research.

  • Project Managemenjecsporoje

    esilesion moicaatoty



    tinud p


    Partner Evaluation


    s im

    Project Set-up &Partner-related Issues


    ofClearly defined obClearly defined reMutually agreed pRealistic aimsAdequate resourcDefined project mSimple collaboratRegular progressEffective communEnsuring collaborEnsuring EqualiMutual benefitEquality of powerEquality of contribExternal InfluencMarket needCorporate stabilit

    Mutual trust ConCommitment GooFlexibility ColLearning Lea

    Compatibility of culture/mode of operationMutual understandingComplementary expertise/strengthsPast collaboration partnersHigh quality staffStrategic importanceComplementary aimsNo hidden agendasCollaborative experienceProject ManagerProject management trainingDiplomacyTrack record & experience incollaborationMulti-functional experience

    Universal SuccCultural Gap IsDiffering priorities/timescalesPublishing in public domainLack of understanding of busines

    398 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journala project, because they inuence the formation of thecollaboration team. Similarly, factors associated withProject Management become applicable during the execu-tion stage of the collaboration. Universityindustry spe-cic factors are also linked into the execution stage,reecting the importance of managing the cultural gapat this point in the collaborations life-cycle. Toward theend of a project, it is essential to assess the outcomes ofthe collaboration, in order to evaluate its relative success.Therefore, the model includes an Outcomes element, toemphasise the need for performance measurement and theevaluation of the outputs.

    Finally, the model also reects the inuence of the all-pervading factors of trust and commitment, etc., on a col-laborative project. However, while the management of theuniversal success factors is most critical during the execu-tion stage, their inuence extends beyond this in reality.Building trust for example, should start before the projectdoes (as the team is coming together), in order to minimizeproblems during the execution stage.

    5. The framework

    Having developed a good practice model for eectiveuniversityindustry research collaboration, there was aneed to make the knowledge that it represents more acces-sible to the practitioner, through the development of aframework management tool.

    Fig. 3. The good practice model incorporatttivesnsibilitiesct plan

    tonesagreementnitoringtionrs deliver


    ity of personnelersonal relation/ teamworkration champion


    Proprietary benefitTechnological innovationContinued support ofresearch programmesPapers publishedPatents/IPRStudent projectsStudent recruitment

    sLack of flexibility (industry)IPR & confidentiality

    peratives (academics)




    Project Management 24 (2006) 3954045.1. Basic framework structure

    The framework constitutes a management process forcollaborative research projects. The interrelationshipsbetween the elements reect the step-by-step approach ofa typical project management process, whereby the collabo-ration (the project) begins with the formation of a projectteam and ends with the achievement of agreed targets (Out-comes), Fig. 3. However, whilst the good practice model pre-sents the Universal Success Factors...


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