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Open Access Publications from the University of California

University Research Management: An Exploratory Literature Review


Professional management is increasingly important for successful research at universities as well as other organizations. This exploratory review draws on different bodies of literature in order to reformulate the complex challenges of research management by applying newer organizational theory. Research management can be described as boundary work that produces couplings between science and the wider society. Because of the complexity of organized science, management is increasingly indispensable to ensure the social, cognitive, and material preconditions of research. This paper discusses different means of research management on the research group level and within university departments. Research organizations are characterized by their relative diffuse distribution of management functions over organizational levels as well as by little direct determination between organizational elements. Charismatic scientific leaders can enhance the efficiency of research organizations and projects. More recently, universities have started to create new management positions within projects and centers. Scientifically trained people are hired as specialists in research management, constituting a new professional role. In contrast to pure administration, the new research managers make decisions with reference to scientific knowledge and the societal environment of research.

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