Constructing R&D Collaboration: Lessons from European Eureka Projectsby Guje Sevon
The strong interest in crossing barriers and bridging dispersed resources and competencies, combined with the expected high costs of doing so, has been the ground for justifying governmental subsidies of various sorts. In Europe, divided as it is by multiple nation structures, ethnic diversity and language barriers, there is a certain prevalence of programs to promote and subsidize collaborative ventures. EUREKA is one such program, a panEuropean framework for collaboration on R&D. The program is based on the idea that knowledge can be increased if organizations with complementary knowledge have the opportunity to engage their R&D activities in cooperative dialogues. EUREKA is meant to spur technological advancement for civilian purposes, and is therefore conceived as a peaceful version of the concurrent SDI (Star Wars) program in the US. EUREKA legitimizes support of collaborative R&D work between private companies, universities and other private or public institutions. Such collaboration is organized as projects that must be crossnational, must contain a significant component of advanced technology, must have a strong market orientation, and a clear prospect of producing results that lend themselves to commercialization. This book deals with EUREKA as a framework for collaborative R&D. It presents field studies of EUREKA projects in which Danish or Finnish partners collaborate with their foreign partners. It contains studies on how the process of international R&D collaboration is organized and managed in individual EUREKA projects. The presumption was that R&D collaboration often fails because of the intricacies of the collaborative process as such. One would expect that thedifficulties of collaboration multiply with the diversity and complexity of cultures, languages, political institutions, et cetera. Thus, the enhanced appreciation of the organizational and managerial aspects of international R&D projects was considered particularly pertinent to the European case. The findings show that many EUREKA projects are able to succeed due to a loose formal structure and strong social structure which enables a constant reconstruction of the project organization and management. This is shown by the ways in which the partnership is formed and in the ways project managers make sense of the project organization both in relation to the task and to themselves as persons. The reports also show that cultural differences do not disturb or hinder collaboration. Such differences may in fact contribute to social interaction. Published in collaboration with Hanken, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki.
- Handelshojskolens Forlag
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