Hounshell found that the technical competence and business perspective of the DuPont manager making the funding decision were also crucial. This individual bore tremendous responsibility, for it was his or her job to decide which research projects opened up new scientific and technological opportunities on which the future of the company would depend. If he or she did not understand the essence of the scientific or technical issues being addressed in the proposed projects, poor scientific and technical investments would be made. On the other hand, if he or she did not understand where the business was going in the next several years, poor business investments would be made. The same arguments can be made in other sectors, e.g., for government agencies—the technical competence and mission vision of the program managers are critical to the success of the agencies' research programs.
Kash's presentation, "The Sources of Commercial Technological Innovation," emphasized that is important to approach the establishment of performance measures and metrics realistically. As Kash noted, the connection between research (especially basic research) and the public good is a crucial but general one. For any given commercial product, research may not be the most important link in the chain that leads from discovery to product, especially for complex products resulting from the integration of sophisticated technologies. Nonetheless, Kash noted that in industry research is widely recognized as providing the future of the business, for without new discoveries, fundamentally new products and processes are simply not possible. Thus, in setting performance measures and metrics for research, the role of research must be kept in perspective and no more benefits of it claimed than can be delivered.
Joseph M. Jasinski (IBM Research) presented the "Accomplishments" approach pioneered at IBM for assessing the value of exploratory research. A noteworthy aspect of this approach is the long-term perspective it provides. The process does not focus on just the previous year's accomplishments, but rather reevaluates the impact of discoveries made in earlier years. From the point of view of research, this long-term view is critical, because past discoveries are the basis for today's products. The institutionalization of the Accomplishments process served IBM Research well as the company was dramatically downsized in the early 1990s, for it had at hand the documentation needed to validate the importance of research both for IBM currently and in its future. This fact is now acknowledged in the definition of the role of IBM Research in the corporation: "Vital to IBM' s Future Success." Through the Accomplishments process, IBM management and the research scientists that they employ have also gained a better understanding of the impact of IBM Research on IBM corporate needs as well as on the scientific and technical community.
James W. Mitchell (Lucent Technologies) described the evaluation of research in the context of improving the effectiveness of research and (in the case of industry) enhancing value for the corporation. He noted that "valued research will have been assessed by some type of method to measure its effectiveness and productivity"—a truism that is implicitly, although not always explicitly, recognized. At Lucent the most frequently applied method for measuring the effectiveness and productivity of research is to compile a matrix of outputs (patents, inventions, intellectual property, etc.) on which a value can be placed. However, this approach has several limitations when applied to "breakthrough" or longer-range research. To address this issue one must assess the effectiveness of the organization in managing its research portfolio, because the portfolio will exhibit, by necessity, a balance between