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Underpinning Strategic Behaviours and Posture of Principal Investigators in Transition/Uncertain Environments


  • Conor O'Kane

    () (Department of Management - University of Otago)

  • James Cunningham

    () (Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change - J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economic)

  • Vincent Mangematin

    () (MTS - Management Technologique et Strategique - Grenoble École de Management (GEM))


Although principal investigators (PIs) are becoming key strategic actors in shaping new scientific trajectories, little is known about how they strategise in an evolving publicly funded research environment. Drawing on thirty interviews and extensive documentation from Ireland's science, engineering and technology (SET) sector, we take a closer look at the heretofore neglected strategic behaviours underlying the research activities of PIs. Our findings suggest that their strategic behaviours fall into four categories - research designer; research adapter; research supporter and research pursuer. We find that the mechanisms for selecting research strategies are interwoven with the posture (reactive/proactive) of PIs as well as their degree of conformance. We argue that more proactive PIs utilising non-conformance strategies shape new research trajectories, while conformative and/or more reactive PIs predominantly pursue and deepen existing trajectories. We discuss the wider implications of these findings for policy makers, funding bodies and the practicing PI and strategist.

Suggested Citation

  • Conor O'Kane & James Cunningham & Vincent Mangematin, 2012. "Underpinning Strategic Behaviours and Posture of Principal Investigators in Transition/Uncertain Environments," Working paper serie RMT - Grenoble Ecole de Management hal-00794944, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:gemwpa:hal-00794944
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grit Laudel, 2006. "The art of getting funded: How scientists adapt to their funding conditions," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(7), pages 489-504, August.
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    3. Vincent Mangematin & Paul O’Reilly & James Cunningham, 2014. "PIs as boundary spanners, science and market shapers," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 1-10, February.
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    6. Barry Bozeman & Vincent Mangematin, 2004. "Editor's Introduction: Scientific and Technical Human Capital," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00424506, HAL.
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    8. Chiara Franzoni, 2009. "Do scientists get fundamental research ideas by solving practical problems?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 671-699, August.
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