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Research, Development, and Engineering Metrics


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  • John R. Hauser

    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

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    We seek to understand how the use of Research, Development, and Engineering (R,D&E) metrics can lead to more effective management of R,D&E. This paper combines qualitative and quantitative research to understand and improve the use of R,D&E metrics. Our research begins with interviews of 43 representative Chief Technical Officers, Chief Executive Offices, and researchers at 10 research-intensive international organizations. These interviews, and an extensive review of the literature, provide qualitative insights. Formal mathematical models attempt to explore these qualitative insights based on more general principles. Our research suggests that metrics-based evaluation and management vary according to the characteristics of the R,D&E activity. For applied projects, we find that project selection can be based on market-outcome metrics when firms use central subsidies to account for short-termism, risk aversion, and scope. With an efficient form of subsidies known as "tin-cupping," the business units have the incentives to choose the projects that are in the firm's best long-term interests. For core-technological development, longer time delays and more risky programs imply that popular R,D&E effectiveness metrics lead researchers to select programs that are not in the firm's long-term interest. Our analyses suggest that firms moderate such market-outcome metrics by placing a larger weight on metrics that attempt to measure research effort more directly. These metrics include standard measures such as publications, citations, patents, citations to patents, and peer review. For basic research, the issues shift to getting the right people and encouraging a breadth of ideas. Unfortunately, metrics that identify the "best people" based on research success lead directly to "not-invented-here" behaviors. Such behaviors result in research empires that are larger than necessary, but lead to fewer ideas. We suggest that firms use "research tourism" metrics, which encourage researchers to take advantage of research spillovers from universities, other industries, and, even, competitors.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 44 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 12-Part-1 (December)
    Pages: 1670-1689

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:44:y:1998:i:12-part-1:p:1670-1689

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    Keywords: Marketing; Research and Development; Product Development; Incentives;


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    Cited by:
    1. Cherchye, L. & Abeele, P. Vanden, 2005. "On research efficiency: A micro-analysis of Dutch university research in Economics and Business Management," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 495-516, May.
    2. Nathalie Lazaric & Alain Raybaut, 2014. "Do incentive systems spur work motivation of inventors in high tech firms? A group-based perspective," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 135-157, January.
    3. Cassiman, Bruno & Di Guardo, Maria Chiara & Valentini, Giovanni, 2010. "Organizing links with science: Cooperate or contract?: A project-level analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 882-892, September.
    4. Cassiman, Bruno & Guardo, Chiara di & Valentini, Giovanni, 2005. "Organizing for innovation: R&D projects, activities and partners," IESE Research Papers D/597, IESE Business School.
    5. Subramaniam Ananthram & Cecil Pearson & Samir Chatterjee, 2010. "Do organisational reform measures impact on global mindset intensity of managers?: Empirical evidence from Indian and Chinese service industry managers," Journal of Chinese Economic and Foreign Trade Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 146-168, June.
    6. Lazzarotti, Valentina & Manzini, Raffaella & Mari, Luca, 2011. "A model for R&D performance measurement," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 212-223, November.
    7. Davila, Tony, 2000. "Performance and the Design of Economic Incentives in New Product Development," Research Papers 1647, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    8. Davila, Antonio, 2003. "Short-term economic incentives in new product development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1397-1420, September.
    9. Nathalie Lazaric & Alain Raybaut, 2014. "Do incentive systems spur work motivations of inventors in high-tech firms," Post-Print halshs-00930186, HAL.
    10. Hauser, John R. & Katz, Gerald M. & International Center for Research on the Management of Technology., 1998. "Metrics : you are what you measure!," Working papers 172-98, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    11. Audia, Pino G. & Brion, Sebastien, 2007. "Reluctant to change: Self-enhancing responses to diverging performance measures," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 255-269, March.


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