Managing collaborative R&D projects development of a practical management tool

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    research has identied a range of management success factors, little attention has been given to how such knowledge could be appliedin the everyday context of a collaborative project. Based on case studies by the authors involving the automotive and aerospace indus-

    collaboration between academia and industry, as a means on both this extensive body of knowledge and case study

    collaboration revealed a number of success factors whichare essentially generic, being applicable across a wide rangeof collaborative formats, e.g. strategic alliances, joint ven-tures, research consortia [46] and industry sectors, e.g.,biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronics, telecommuni-cations, information technology, automotive engineering,

    * Corresponding author. Address: International Manufacturing Centre(IMC), University of Warwick, Coventry, West Midlands CV4 7AL, UK.Tel.: +44 24 7652 3785.

    E-mail address: (T.A. Barnes).1 Presently Professor of Manufacturing Processes at Nottingham


    International Journal of Project Mana

    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OFof improving innovation eciency and thereby enhancingwealth creation [1]. However, collaborations between oftendiverse organisations are dicult to manage [2] and the cul-tural dierences between academia and industry presentparticular diculties [3]. Thus, the contrast between anincreasing prevalence of universityindustry collaborativeR&D projects and equally prevalent reports of failure,has driven considerable research in the identication ofmanagement success factors [3,4].

    work. The framework tool is then tested through a furthercase study involving the food and drink industry.

    2. The current body of knowledge

    It has been suggested that the key to successful collabo-ration lies in the way in which they are managed [5]; a viewwhich is reected throughout the literature, in the identi-cation of a wide range of management success factors. Areview of published research concerning industryindustrytries, this paper reports on the development of a management tool designed to provide practical guidance on the eective management ofcollaborative R&D projects. 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Universityindustry; Collaborative R&D; Success factors; Cultural gap; Partner evaluation; Project management; Good practice model;Management framework/tool

    1. Introduction

    Against a background of increasing international com-petition and rapid technological change, the UK govern-ment has, since the 1980s, been actively encouraging

    However, very little work has been done pertaining tohow this knowledge could be applied in practice, to bringabout improvements in collaboration management. Thispaper reports on the development of a framework for theeective management of collaborative R&D projects, basedManaging collaborative R&practical man

    T.A. Barnes *, I.R. P

    Warwick Manufacturing Group, School of Engi

    Received 19 November 2004; received in revi


    In an environment of globalisation, intense competition and ristaining technological growth. However, there are many diculties i0263-7863/$30.00 2006 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2006.03.003projects development of agement tool

    by 1, A.M. Gibbons

    ring, The University of Warwick, England, UK

    form 10 June 2005; accepted 20 March 2006

    R&D costs, collaboration has become an essential means of sus-rent in managing projects across organisational boundaries. While

    gement 24 (2006) 395404


  • aerospace, and oil-exploration [3,5,7]. These success fac-tors can be categorised into a series of themes, Fig. 1. Forexample, Fig. 1 shows that the choice of partner themeincludes compatibility of culture and mode of operationas a success factor. Since incompatibilities between compa-nies often result in misunderstandings, suspicion and con-ict [7]. The theme referred to as universal success factorsdiers from the others in that it is less specic, consistingof factors such as exibility and commitment which areregarded as having an all-pervading inuence across all ele-ments and all stages of the life cycle of a collaborativeproject.

    By contrast, research concerning universityindustry col-laboration has concentrated primarily on the existence andeects of the so-called cultural gap [3]. The factors iden-tied included conicts over ownership of intellectual prop-erty (IP), academic freedom to publish, and dierences ofpriorities, time horizons and areas of research focus. How-ever, aside from the cultural issues, a UK study by Engi-neering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)[8], revealed ndings that were similar to those reportedfor industryindustry collaborations, thus indicating thatan overlap existed between (management) factors aecting

    3. Case study research

    Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) has, since itsfoundation in 1980, established a substantial involvementin and a reputation for collaborative research with indus-try. Since the primary focus of this work is on collabora-tive R&D, six collaborative research projects involvingWMG and a number of industrial partners were thereforeselected for study as part of a multiple-case researchdesign.

    The study was designed to test the inuence that thesuccess factors identied in the literature had on theoutcome in each case. Five of the six case studies werepart of a large collaborative programme involvingWMG and some 25 companies from the automotiveindustry. These projects were therefore set-up in a verysimilar way, but were each perceived very dierently interms of success or failure, making them appropriatesubjects for studying the eects of management successfactors. The sixth case extended the study to the aero-space industry, providing an opportunity to investigatethe inuence of the management success factors acrosstwo dierent industries [9].




    tive mo





    396 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404the success of industryindustry collaborations and thoseof universityindustry collaborations.

    This suggests that good practice knowledge from bothelds can be combined into a comprehensive model forthe success of universityindustry collaborations. However,this hypothesis needed to be tested. A series of case studieswere therefore conducted in order to identify and classifyfactors found to aect the success of universityindustrytechnological collaborations.

    Choice of PartnerCompatibility of culture/mode of operationMutual understandingComplementaryexpertise/strengthsPast collaboration partnersHigh quality staffShared vision/strategic importanceComplementary aimsNo hidden agendasCollaborative experience

    Project ManagerProject management trainingDiplomacyTrack record & experience incollaborationMulti-functional experience

    Project ManageClearly defined oClearly defined reMutually agreed Realistic aimsAdequate resourDefined project mSimple collaboraRegular progressEffective commuEnsuring collabo

    Ensuring EqualMutual benefitEquality of poweEquality of contri

    Monitoring EnviroMarket needCorporate stabilityFig. 1. Management success factoIn each of the cases studied, project participants fromthe collaborating companies, academic researchers, andwhere applicable, any technical sta having direct involve-ment in the projects, were subject to questionnaire-struc-tured interviews. The interview data was supplementedby documentation in the form of minutes of progressmeetings, company records and direct observation of pro-ject progress meetings, in order to ensure adequate trian-gulation of evidence [10].


    onsibilitiesect plan

    tones agreementnitoringtionrs deliver


    ental Influences

    Universal Success FactorsMutual trustCommitment Good personal relationshipsCollaboration championContinuityLearningFlexibilityLeadershiprs identied from the literature.

  • 3.1. Data analysis

    The approach taken in organising and analysing the datawas to group responses pertaining to the same or similarissues into categories, allowing major themes to emergefrom the data collected. This technique proved eective inidentifying the main issues and patterns of similarities anddierences within and across cases [10,11]. For clarity, theanalysis concentrated on only the most frequently citedissues, which were assumed to be themost signicant, Fig. 1.

    3.2. Main ndings

    3.2.1. Identied similaritiesThe study revealed substantial commonality between

    management factors found to have an impact on collabo-ration success in the six cases, and the success factorsidentied in previous studies of industryindustry techno-logical collaborations, Fig. 2. The ndings therefore sup-port the hypothesis that factors found to inuence thesuccess of industryindustry collaborations also apply tothe universityindustry case. Furthermore, the study alsoprovided evidence of diculties associated with the acade-miaindustry cultural gap. It can therefore be con-cluded that while managing the academiaindustrycultural gap is important in universityindustry collabora-tions, success relies upon a much broader range of man-

    3.2.2. Identied dierences

    Fig. 2 also incorporates a number of success factorswhich were not found to have been critical to the successof the case study projects (those shown outside the shadedarea). This is to be expected since these success factors wereidentied from a wide range of research into a number ofdierent types of collaboration. While these managementsuccess factors are essentially generic and all-pervading,certain factors will necessarily prove more critical in sometypes of collaboration than others, as a result of the verydierent purposes, circumstances and characteristics ofeach type. This work will therefore focus only on factorsrelevant to research collaborations involving universityand industrial partners.

    4. A good practice model

    Based on the case study research and the literature, thegood practice model presented below (Fig. 3) represents aculmination of the total body of knowledge with respectto collaboration management, with a specic focus onresearch collaborations involving academia and industry.

    Fig. 3 also indicates where links exist between the majorthemes or categories of success factors. The researchshowed that the applicability of each category of successfactors changes over the life cycle of a typical collaborativeproject. For example, success factors associated with




    T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404 397agement factors.

    Choice of Partner

    Market need Corporate stability

    Environmental Factors

    Leadership Differing time prioritiesStaff secondment Publishing in public domainIPR Academic laissez-faire

    approachIndustrial lack of flexibility

    Cultural Gap

    Factors Common to Liter

    Compatibility of culture/ Complimentary expertisemode of operation Past collaborative partners Mutual understanding Strategic importanceHigh quality staff Complimentary aims

    No hidden agendasCollaborative experienceFig. 2. Commonality between the literature andChoice of partner are most applicable at the beginning of

    rly defined objectives Simple collaborative agreementr defined responsibilities

    ually agreed project planlistic aimsquate resourcesned project milestonesular progress monitoringctive communicationsuring collaborators deliverd project manager

    Project Management

    Mutual benefit Equality of power/Equality of contribution dependency

    Ensuring Equality

    utual trust Good personal relationshipsommitment Flexibilityontinuity Collaboration championeamwork Leadership


    Universal Success Factors

    re & Case Studiesfactors identied from case study research.

  • Project Managemenjecsporoje

    esilesion moicaatoty



    tinud p


    Partner Evaluation


    s im

    Project Set-up &Partner-related Issues


    ofClearly defined obClearly defined reMutually agreed pRealistic aimsAdequate resourcDefined project mSimple collaboratRegular progressEffective communEnsuring collaborEnsuring EqualiMutual benefitEquality of powerEquality of contribExternal InfluencMarket needCorporate stabilit

    Mutual trust ConCommitment GooFlexibility ColLearning Lea

    Compatibility of culture/mode of operationMutual understandingComplementary expertise/strengthsPast collaboration partnersHigh quality staffStrategic importanceComplementary aimsNo hidden agendasCollaborative experienceProject ManagerProject management trainingDiplomacyTrack record & experience incollaborationMulti-functional experience

    Universal SuccCultural Gap IsDiffering priorities/timescalesPublishing in public domainLack of understanding of busines

    398 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journala project, because they inuence the formation of thecollaboration team. Similarly, factors associated withProject Management become applicable during the execu-tion stage of the collaboration. Universityindustry spe-cic factors are also linked into the execution stage,reecting the importance of managing the cultural gapat this point in the collaborations life-cycle. Toward theend of a project, it is essential to assess the outcomes ofthe collaboration, in order to evaluate its relative success.Therefore, the model includes an Outcomes element, toemphasise the need for performance measurement and theevaluation of the outputs.

    Finally, the model also reects the inuence of the all-pervading factors of trust and commitment, etc., on a col-laborative project. However, while the management of theuniversal success factors is most critical during the execu-tion stage, their inuence extends beyond this in reality.Building trust for example, should start before the projectdoes (as the team is coming together), in order to minimizeproblems during the execution stage.

    5. The framework

    Having developed a good practice model for eectiveuniversityindustry research collaboration, there was aneed to make the knowledge that it represents more acces-sible to the practitioner, through the development of aframework management tool.

    Fig. 3. The good practice model incorporatttivesnsibilitiesct plan

    tonesagreementnitoringtionrs deliver


    ity of personnelersonal relation/ teamworkration champion


    Proprietary benefitTechnological innovationContinued support ofresearch programmesPapers publishedPatents/IPRStudent projectsStudent recruitment

    sLack of flexibility (industry)IPR & confidentiality

    peratives (academics)




    Project Management 24 (2006) 3954045.1. Basic framework structure

    The framework constitutes a management process forcollaborative research projects. The interrelationshipsbetween the elements reect the step-by-step approach ofa typical project management process, whereby the collabo-ration (the project) begins with the formation of a projectteam and ends with the achievement of agreed targets (Out-comes), Fig. 3. However, whilst the good practice model pre-sents the Universal Success Factors and the Cultural Gapcategories as discrete elements, this is not the case withinthe framework structure. These factors, though important,tend not to be easily consigned to one specic stage in the lifeof a collaborative project. Furthermore, evidence suggeststhat despite the specic nature of the cultural gap, themajority of the problems associated with it can be alleviatedby good collaboration/project management. From an oper-ational perspective, it is therefore more appropriate to dealwith these issues indirectly through other, related successfactors. For example, the issue of diering priorities andtimescales is addressed as a project management issue, bycreating conditions within the collaborative team conduciveto open, honest communication.

    5.2. Management process for collaborative research

    Having established the basic structure of the framework,management processes were then built around it to pro-duce a usable management tool.

    ing universityindustry cultural factors.

  • of5.2.1. Project manager selection

    The Project Manager Selection stage reects both theimportance placed on high quality project managers inthe literature [4,12] and case study evidence indicating thatinexperienced or ineective project managers had a nega-tive impact on the projects studied [9]. Collaborationsrequire the project manager to harmonise the dieringobjectives, perspectives and modes of operation of oftendiverse organisations. Furthermore, since collaborationsspan organisational boundaries the project manager hasno direct authority and must therefore rely on diplomacyto ensure that partners deliver and that targets are achieved[4,12]. The case study research showed that failure to main-tain control of a collaborative project quickly leads to dis-illusionment and loss of commitment to the project,particularly among industrial partners [9]. A degree oftechnical awareness and some experience of the R&D envi-ronment can also prove valuable, because familiarity withthe research subject and its inherent uncertainties, willaord the project manager credibility within the teamand enable the adoption of an appropriate managementstyle [13].

    5.2.2. The University Partner

    The University Partner stage is aimed at resolvingimportant issues associated with academicindustry rela-tions and project management eectiveness. The case studyresearch showed that relations were enhanced where theacademic lead investigators share project managementresponsibility with their industrial partners; an area notspecically addressed by the literature.

    Such is the responsibility implied in the role of leadinvestigator that the nature of their background experiencecan greatly inuence management eectiveness within col-laborative projects. Academic experience is an obviouspre-requisite, but a degree of industrial experience is alsodesirable; an awareness of industrial issues and an appreci-ation of the dierent pressures and priorities to which com-panies are subject. A combination of these attributes allowacademic progress to be properly served, despite the needto accommodate industrial urgency.

    While the ability to eectively organise people and pro-ject activities is important, the presence of a projectmanager within the team means that formal project man-agement training is not a necessity for a lead researcher.Eective organization of the researchers by the lead inves-tigator will however earn the condence of the industrialpartners. Other key issues include a realistic assessmentof how much time the lead investigator is able to committo the project, taking into account other academic commit-ments. An unrealistic assessment often proves detrimentalto the project and relations with the industrial partners.

    5.2.3. Partner evaluationChoosing appropriate collaboration partners is regarded

    T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journalin the literature as being the most important element inu-encing collaboration success [6] and a number of factorshave been identied. For example, Harrigan [4] found thatexperienced partners were better able to understand thecapabilities and the limitations of a collaborative venture,and also tended to be more exible.

    Spekman et al. [6] however, focused on the need for ashared vision among partners, leading to complementaryobjectives. This was supported by the case study research,but here shared strategic interest was also shown to be aprerequisite for senior management commitment, itself animportant success factor [3]. Conversely, Harrigan [4]describes hidden agendas as the single most important rea-son why collaborations fail since they have a profound neg-ative inuence on relationships within the venture, an issuewhich was borne out in the case study research [9]. It hasalso been established that past experience of workingtogether can be helpful, where a degree of trust has alreadybeen established [6]. Where this is not the case, CEST [14]have suggested that evidence of a good previous trackrecord in collaboration creates a degree of initial con-dence among partners. Other practical issues include ensur-ing that partners oer complimentary expertise so that thereare no technological gaps, and that each partner has a cleararea of responsibility (and therefore commitment) withinthe project [7,9].

    Evidence of corporate change or instability within anorganization has been shown to have a profoundly nega-tive inuence on collaborative projects [7,14] and this wasclearly witnessed in the case study research. A secondaryeect of such instability can be changes to personnelassigned by the aected organization to the project.Finally, the presence of a collaboration champion, i.e., anindividual with great enthusiasm for and commitment tothe venture, who is also inuential and well-placed withinthe partner organization, has been shown to be a criticalsuccess factor [9,12].

    5.2.4. Project set-up and execution

    With any project, careful consideration must be given toits set-up and execution, particularly with respect to mak-ing ecient use of available time and resources. Withoutthe benet of clearly dened objectives, projects (R&D pro-jects in particular) can become broad and unwieldy, whilstconversely, assigning clear roles and responsibilities to part-ners and developing a project workplan has been shown tohave a positive inuence on the involvement and commit-ment of partners within a collaborative project. However,the case studies showed that where workplans are notadhered to, are unrealistic or lacking in sucient detail,industrial partners in particular, quickly lose condencein the project [9].

    Collaborative projects typically involve partners whoare geographically remote from each other, making face-to-face contact on a regular basis problematic, so eectivecommunication is essential [3]. Whilst electronic mediacan allow virtual meetings to take place, the known

    Project Management 24 (2006) 395404 399intangible benets of face-to-face contact are dicult toreplicate. The framework tool therefore encourages a

  • robust communications strategy, combining formal mecha-nisms for strategic discussion and day-to-day management,with informal communications to build team spirit andtrust.

    5.2.5. OutcomesSuccess in collaborative terms is a highly subjective issue

    [7], with perceptions of success varying among partnerswithin the same collaborative project [9,15]. Research hasidentied a number of criteria for success [4,7,15] whichhave subsequently been incorporated into the frameworktool, thus allowing for success to be measured by a combi-nation of objective, measurable, project outputs, and thesubjective perceptions of the partners.

    performance against a number of criteria. The results areplotted on to a Collaboration Chart for ease of interpreta-tion, as described later. The framework can be used torepeatedly re-evaluate performance throughout the life ofthe collaboration, in order to gain some measure ofimprovement.

    6.1. Applying the questionnaires

    The questionnaires are applied at specic stages in thelife cycle of the collaborative project, Fig. 4.

    At the earliest possible stage in the planning of a collab-orative research project, questionnaires Q-1, Q-2 (includingQ-2a) and Q-3 are applied to provide an initial assessment

    400 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404The Outcomes element therefore constitutes a perfor-mance measurement stage, assessing for example, whetheror not mutual benet has been achieved among the partnersand whether or the collaboration resulted in adequate pro-prietary benet, i.e. benets commensurate with the invest-ment/risk borne by each partner. A nal criteria is toestablish the likelihood that the partners would considercollaborating again (either with each other or with newpartners), thus providing an indicator of whether or notthe experience had been positive, and the motives that drivepartners in collaboration.

    6. Applying the framework

    Practical implementation of the framework tool wasachieved through the development of aHandbook and UserPack. The User Pack consists of a series of questionnaires,each of which focuses on a specic element of the frame-work, identifying potential risk factors and promptingthe user to take mitigating action. Since the questionnairesmerely highlight potential issues and do not explain them,the User Pack is supplemented by the Framework Hand-book. The Handbook serves a dual purpose in that it pro-vides instructions for the application of the frameworkand a set of guide notes which provide the user with prac-tical advice on the issues raised. Each questionnaire incor-porates a scoring system which enables the user to assess

    Project ManagerEvaluation




    Q-2& 2a

    Q-3 Q-4Fig. 4. The framework structure witof prospective partners. In many cases, collaborativeresearch projects are initiated by a university partner, pos-sibly in conjunction with an industrial partner, whotogether may seek to identify other partners to fund andparticipate in the project. The lead industrial partner willtypically take on project management responsibility andidentify a project manager. In doing so, the lead industrialpartner can be requested to use Q-1 as part of the selectionprocess to provide a risk prole.

    Q-2 and Q-3 provide equivalent risk proles for the uni-versity and the industrial partners respectively. The litera-ture often refers to partner selection rather thanevaluation, but clearly, it is not always possible or practica-ble to select partners; partners may be self-selecting, forexample, because they are the only organisations willingto fund the research. Choice of partners may also berestricted for political reasons, e.g., to achieve criteria forpublic funding, or provide an appropriate combination ofexpertise and/or technology. However, considerable benetcan still be gained from evaluating prospective partnerswith a view to identifying and mitigating the risks describedpreviously.

    The Outputs questionnaire (Q-4) can be used to estab-lish (early on) the personal and corporate/institutionalobjectives of each partner (academic and industrial) andtheir expectations with regard to actual project deliverablesand project organisation. It has been established [9] that

    ProjectSet-up &Execution


    Q-6Q-5 Q-7h linkages to the questionnaires.

  • partners have a highly subjective view of the success of acollaboration, and that this is based largely on how wellthe partners initial expectations are met over the courseof the project. These expectations can sometimes be unrea-sonable, and may not always t with the projects agreedscope and objectives. Q-4 therefore performs the importantfunction of highlighting any incongruencies among theexpectations of partners in the early stages of the project,so that they can be dealt with.

    The Project Set-up and Execution questionnaire (Q-5)assesses the risks inherent primarily with regard to projectmanagement, e.g., clarity of the objectives, the robustnessof the communications strategy, etc. However, it also allowsfor the incorporation of some of the universal success fac-tors outlined previously, e.g., the presence of a collabora-tion champion. Following on from this, the Monitoringquestionnaire (Q-6) can be applied at agreed intervals toprovide a formal, on-going monitoring process. It also uti-lizes the universal success factors to monitor on-going levelsof for example, commitment and trust within the team.

    A nal questionnaire, Q-7, provides a means of bothmeasuring project performance/output, and an on-goingassessment of the quality of collaborative relations within

    the project, utilizing the project outcome criteria outlinedearlier.

    6.2. Applying the collaboration charts

    The collaboration chart is a visual tool used to illustratethe status of the collaboration at any given time; a snap-shot. Colour-coded zones on the collaboration chart indi-cate a high (red, inner zone), moderate (yellow,mid-zone) or low (green, outer zone) risk status for eachfocus area, Fig. 5. The scoring system assigns scoresdepending on the presence or absence of a specic successfactor, or the degree to which that criterion has beenachieved. At this early stage in the development of the tool,the interpretation of what constitutes high, moderateand low risk scores on the chart, is based on the resultsof the six case study projects. As such, their accuracy willrequire validation through future case studies. However,this does not detract unduly from the tools primary func-tion of alerting collaborative partners to potentialproblems.

    Responsibility for applying the chart would generally liewith the project manager, in consultation with the lead

    T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404 401Fig. 5. A snapshot in time using the collaboration chart.

  • investigators of the university partners. This consultation isimportant in guarding against misinterpretation and/orbias in the information conveyed in the chart the dierentperspectives of the industrial project manager versus theacademic lead investigator should, in this way, encouragehealthy discussion of the issues, leading to a consensuson the actual status of the project with respect to the appli-cable success factors.

    The focus areas marked on the collaboration chartbroadly correspond to the areas addressed by the question-naires, though to reduce the complexity of the chart, resultsfrom the monitoring questionnaire Q-6 have been includedin the Project Set-up and Execution section, while theresults from the project outputs questionnaire Q-4, wereused as a baseline for assessing the Outcomes.

    A second chart illustrates the risk proles of individualpartners, thus limiting the amount of detailed informationthat needs to be conveyed on the collaboration chart. Thischart (Fig. 6) is based on questionnaire Q-3, and on com-pletion a single, overall score is transferred to the collabo-ration chart.

    The charts provide a clear, visual indicator of the statusof a collaborative project at a given time, and can also be

    used to maintain an on-going record of the life of a project,which could prove useful in a post-project analysis. How-ever, the framework tool and charts require extensive test-ing for validation purposes.

    7. Implementation case study

    7.1. The research approach

    An additional case study was used to begin testing theeectiveness of the framework tool, and its applicabilityto other industries. The SUCCESS project (SUpply ChainCost Eciency and Swift Service in the food and drinkindustry) shares a number of characteristics with the casestudy projects on which the tool is based, but is positionedin the food and drink industry. The industry diers fromautomotive and aerospace in a number of respects, beingcharacterised by specic logistical issues relating to thehandling of fresh, perishable material, and a general ten-dency to collaborate on advancements in management/pro-cess research rather than on technological developments.

    The framework tool was applied in this case by theauthor. Throughout the project, ndings derived from

    402 T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395404Fig. 6. Example of the use of the partner evaluation chart.

  • ofthe use of the framework tool were fed back to the team, toencourage awareness and mitigating action (in accordancewith an action research methodology). Evaluation of theframework tool primarily centred on a comparison of pre-dictions made by the tool, with subsequent data collectedas part of on-going project monitoring.

    8. Evaluation of the framework tool

    Implementation of the framework tool in the SUCCESSproject was aimed at both evaluating the eectiveness ofthe framework, and testing its applicability to anotherindustry. In practice, the dierences between this industryand that of aerospace and automotive were small withrespect to managing a collaborative R&D project. How-ever, the focus on developing innovative management pro-cesses rather than technological development resulted in agreater need for on-site data collection and interaction withthe industrial partners, which in turn lead to valuableinsights with respect to human factors, the inuence ofthe collaboration champion and the eects of corporateinstability on the commitment of industrial partners.

    8.1. Partner evaluation

    8.1.1. The Management Team

    The project manager and the academic lead investiga-tors formed the management team for the SUCCESS pro-ject, and thus the evaluation focused on the combinedattributes and actions of this team. The evaluation showedthat while the project manager had a high degree of man-agement skills/experience (including relevant collaborativeexperience), he had no direct experience of the R&D envi-ronment. This was identied as a potential risk as the pro-ject manager would have diculty predicting accuratetimescales for the academic work required. However, thisrisk was mitigated in this case by close co-operationbetween the project manager and the academic lead inves-tigators, thus serving to emphasise the importance ofstrong communications and team work; both of which aresuccess factors identied in the framework model, Fig. 1.

    The lead investigators of both participating universitieswere assessed as being relatively low risk, primarily becauseboth had a good level of industrial experience. Their under-standing of the realities of the business environmentappears, as predicted by the framework, to have had apositive inuence with regard to relations with the indus-trial partners.

    Overall, the complementary nature of the combinedattributes of the management team resulted in eectiveday-to-day management of the project and the collabora-tion, but this case also makes clear the importance of man-aging personal dierences. On-going monitoring of thecollaboration highlighted a degree of conict between thelead investigators, due to personal dierences (of personal-

    T.A. Barnes et al. / International Journality and professional outlook). In practice, the interventionof the project manager minimized the negative impacts ofthese conicts on the project (further supporting the impor-tance of diplomacy and good management skills), but therisk posed to the collaboration was, at times, signicant.

    This is not an issue which is currently explicitlyaddressed by the framework, or indeed to any great extentby the literature. This evaluation however suggests thatpersonal dierences must be taken into account and mustbe dealt with through careful mediation if the collaborationis not to suer.

    8.2. Industrial partner evaluation

    The framework predicts that the commitment of its part-ners (and specically the presence of a collaboration cham-pion) is a key success factor, and that conversely, corporateinstability and a lack of continuity of personnel can be dis-ruptive and damaging to collaborations [9]. These predic-tions were borne out in the SUCCESS project. Corporateintransigence toward the project by Partner 1 was over-come only by the personal commitment of its representa-tive (a collaboration champion).

    The SUCCESS project also illustrated the highly unsta-ble nature of modern organizations, and the damage whichcan be done where such instability brings about changes inthe personnel involved in the venture. A marked reductionin the involvement of Partner 3s representative lead todelays and problems, despite the on-going commitment ofthat individual and the assignment of an able replacement.Furthermore, the loss of Partner 4s representative (and col-laboration champion) lead to the complete withdrawal ofthat partner from the project, thus illustrating the extremeconsequences of these combined factors. The loss of a col-laboration champion has therefore been shown to be ofgreater importance than has previously been acknowledgedin existing literature. It is therefore concluded that the pres-ence (and retention) of the collaboration champion within acollaboration needs to be given signicantly greater empha-sis within the framework evaluation process.

    9. Conclusions

    Whilst considerable research has been devoted to identi-fying management success factors for collaborative pro-jects, to date the literature provides no guidance as to howthe full range of these success factors could be applied inthe every day context of managing a collaboration. Theframework, a management tool for practitioners developedon the basis of case studies and published research, aims toll this gap.

    The framework encourages an awareness of the keyissues aecting the success of collaborations and promptsthe manager to take appropriate and timely action to pre-vent problems before they arise. Evaluation of the tooldemonstrated some preliminary support for its ability topredict weaknesses and potential risks, thus enabling eec-

    Project Management 24 (2006) 395404 403tive mitigating action to be taken by the project team.Developed initially for use in automotive and aerospace

  • R&D projects, implementation in the food and drinkindustry indicates that it is more widely applicable.

    In addition, the work provided important additionalinsights into the dynamics of collaborative R&D projects,most notably that strong collaboration is based on strongpersonal as well as organizational relationships. Relatedto this is the conclusion that the collaboration championshould be treated as a higher-level factor within the frame-work, in recognition of the inuence it has been shown toexert on the dynamics of collaboration.


    The authors wish to thank EPSRC for funding this re-search and all those involved in the SUCCESS projectwho gave freely of their time in contributing to this study:Norman Wilson, Masterfoods UK; Edwin Pearson, Ber-nard Matthews; Paul Robinson, McCormick; Chris Ro-wat and Jim Rowley, Chartered Institute of Logisticsand Transport (CILT); Linda Whicker and Carlos Mena,Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University ofWarwick; Mike Bernon and Simon Templar, CCLT,Craneld School of Management, Craneld Universityand Ron Aspinall, Guaranteed Business Improvement.

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    Managing collaborative R amp D projects development of a practical management toolIntroductionThe current body of knowledgeCase study researchData analysisMain findingsIdentified similaritiesIdentified differences

    A good practice modelThe frameworkBasic framework structureManagement process for collaborative researchProject manager selectionThe University PartnerPartner evaluationProject set-up and executionOutcomes

    Applying the frameworkApplying the questionnairesApplying the collaboration charts

    Implementation case studyThe research approach

    Evaluation of the framework toolPartner evaluationThe Management Team

    Industrial partner evaluation



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