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A framework for structuring interdisciplinary research management


  • König, Bettina
  • Diehl, Katharina
  • Tscherning, Karen
  • Helming, Katharina


With project-based research becoming a major form of research organisation, coordination and management has become an important task in interdisciplinary research collaborations and a key determinant of their success. Yet little theory-based information is available regarding the decisive determinants of project management success and the functions it needs to fulfil. Based on the assumption that such projects are temporary organisations, we have adapted the Competing Values Framework (Quinn, 1988; Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1983), taken from the literature on organisation management, making it usable for project managers in interdisciplinary research projects. Via a case study from a European Integrated Project, we have developed four essential management fields, relating them to the existing literature on management of inter- and transdisciplinary research projects. Our resulting Interdisciplinary Research Management Framework makes coordinator functions explicit and plausible, while also being generic, in that specific coordination duties can be attributed to functions relatively independent of project topic. The framework can facilitate the structured planning, conducting and evaluating of management activities for large interdisciplinary projects. It can be a practical tool for project leaders and scientific administrators, but may also help to facilitate further academic discussion on interdisciplinary research management. The production of results dependent on information transfers between project consortia and target arenas (e.g. the science–policy interface) remains a major challenge. In any case, a “re-invention of the wheel” process, in the sense of personal and project-specific learning, still seems to be somewhat necessary for organising context-specific, temporary interdisciplinary research programmes.

Suggested Citation

  • König, Bettina & Diehl, Katharina & Tscherning, Karen & Helming, Katharina, 2013. "A framework for structuring interdisciplinary research management," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 261-272.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:42:y:2013:i:1:p:261-272
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.05.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Adler, Niclas & Elmquist, Maria & Norrgren, Flemming, 2009. "The challenge of managing boundary-spanning research activities: Experiences from the Swedish context," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1136-1149, September.
    2. David J. Pannell, 2008. "Public Benefits, Private Benefits, and Policy Mechanism Choice for Land-Use Change for Environmental Benefits," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(2), pages 225-240.
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    2. Espinoza-Tenorio, Alejandro & Espejel, Ileana & Wolff, Matthias, 2015. "From adoption to implementation? An academic perspective on Sustainable Fisheries Management in a developing country," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 252-260.
    3. repec:ovi:oviste:v:xvii:y:2017:i:2:p:455-460 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Esther Hormiga & Petra Saá-Pérez & Nieves L. Díaz-Díaz & José Luis Ballesteros-Rodríguez & Inmaculada Aguiar-Diaz, 2017. "The influence of entrepreneurial orientation on the performance of academic research groups: the mediating role of knowledge sharing," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 10-32, February.
    5. Kragt, M.E. & Pannell, D.J. & McVittie, A. & Stott, A.W. & Vosough Ahmadi, B. & Wilson, P., 2016. "Improving interdisciplinary collaboration in bio-economic modelling for agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 217-224.
    6. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:9:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s12571-016-0643-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Siedlok, Frank & Hibbert, Paul & Sillince, John, 2015. "From practice to collaborative community in interdisciplinary research contexts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 96-107.
    8. Hoffmann, Sabine & Pohl, Christian & Hering, Janet G., 2017. "Exploring transdisciplinary integration within a large research program: Empirical lessons from four thematic synthesis processes," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 678-692.


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