Design and the management of multi-institutional research collaborations: Theoretical implications from two case studies


Over the past three decades, U.S. science and technology funding agencies have increasingly supported large-scale, centralized, block grant-based research projects that often span multiple disciplines and institutions. This trend has developed at such a rate that research focused on understanding the management of these new collaborative models has largely not kept pace. We use two case studies of large-scale, multi-disciplinary collaborations to develop an institutional framework that illuminates the relationships among (a) the epistemic norms of the disciplines represented in the collaboration, (b) the organizational structure of these collaborations, and (c) the inter-institutional collaboration success. The results of our case study analysis demonstrate that large-scale, multi-discipline, inter-institutional collaborations need a relatively high level of development in either (1) the epistemic development of the disciplines involved in the collaboration or (2) the organizational structure of the collaboration. We argue that the domain (i.e. epistemic or organizational) that provides the highest level of institutionalization is the one that organizes the “rules” of the collaboration. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Corley, C. Boardman and B. Bozeman (2006), “Design and the Management of Multi-institutional Research Collaborations: Theoretical Implications from Two Case Studies,” Research Policy, 33, 975-993.