In real life central and decentralised research departments exist side by side. Their relative strengths depend on staffing, budgets and the stage reached by the company in the central vs local autonomy cycle. Since both types of department exist, the question is how to reconcile the information needs of these different departments, and to maximise the usefulness to each of the data they collect. John Rutherford will describe the process of designing and financing multinational research at Shell International. Jane Kalim will discuss the advantages of centrally co-ordinated multinational research, in terms of consistency, convenience, expertise and, from the research company's point of view, profitability. She then shows some of the reasons why centrally co-ordinated research is often of limited local use. The paper ends with a discussion of the "core-question" concept, whereby a few standardised questions answering central information needs can be added to local surveys in order to build up central or regional data bases for central management decision taking.