Management control of biomedical research

Approximate reading time: 6-8 min. One study examined management control of biomedical research.


Management control of biomedical research

Rich-based evidence of biomedical research and pharmaceutical innovationn

One study investigated management and organization factors which may enhance the effectiveness of biomedical research and pharmaceutical innovation. The study consisted of 222 survey questionnaires returned by senior scientific staff of academic hospitals and large health research institutes in the Netherlands and the main R&D laboratories of innovative pharmaceutical companies in Europe, and 47 in-depth interviews with professors, institute directors and R&D directors.

The results suggest that pharmaceutical companies are more positively engaged in consistent control than are academic research laboratories, with health research institutes taking up an intermediate position. It is concluded that a well-balanced combination of personnel, administrative and external control is needed to improve effectiveness in universities, institutes and companies alike.


Management control of biomedical research

The researchers propose some management implications. The most important management control variable turned out to be personnel control, which explains part of the variance of all but one of the effectiveness indicators. This is clear confirmation for a central thesis in socio-dynamic literature. Stimulating and rewarding environments, which enhance the motivation of the scientific personnel, are needed for high effectiveness. Probably just as interesting is the observation that process control did not come out as an important factor discriminating between high and low performers in universities and institutes.

Both ways of supervision (tight control, with strict planning of every step of the research process, or loose control, leaving the individual researcher room for maneuver) may lead to high effectiveness. There are many ways for good research managers to reach their goals. But what they cannot change is the inflexibility of the organization. Research management and management consultants may profit from this knowledge by concentrating their efforts on organizational flexibility.


Reward environments to increase innovation capability

Numerous researchers have stressed the importance of stimulating and rewarding environments to enhance innovative effectiveness. The importance of a flexible organization to proactively react to changing situations, and the importance of maintaining an extensive R&D network, are also stressed in many studies. However, until now only limited evidence has been presented to prove these statements in the real world of management practice. Taking into account the large contextual variation, the comparison has shown reasonably consistent results. Consequently, the findings of this study may be generalized to management of innovation and technology management at large.



Omta, S.W.F., Bouter, , L.M., van Engelen, J.M.L. 1996. Management control of biomedical research and pharmaceutical innovation. Technovation  17(4), 167-179.

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