The management of international research

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Carol Coutts


Key variations in international research management are encountered in the extent of central control exerted and in the function of the group chosen to manage the project (usually either research or marketing). Centrally controlled projects tend to be well managed and co-ordinated for comparability, but often lack sensitivity to important local issues. Locally controlled projects gain the active involvement of local management but fail to deliver a valid picture of the international situation as a whole. Projects managed by researchers tend to be technically well organised but not always sufficiently well geared to the needs of ultimate users. In projects managed by marketing people the briefing and use made of the research tend to be of a high standard, but the political aspects of the marketing role can sometimes threaten the neutrality necessary in the research process. The key recommendation for ensuring good international research management is to appoint from the start a team involving all parties - users, client researchers and local suppliers - at both central and local levels. Lines of authority and communication should be clarified to all concerned. Sufficient time should be allowed for full consultation at the planning stage, and the user team should insist not only on comparability of approach but also on being shown a synthesis of findings from all countries. Commissioning organisations should make use of the unique opportunities afforded by the research process to involve and motivate their international management teams.

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