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level is seldom unequivocal, it is certain that valued chemical research will have been scrutinized to ascertain its specific merit and impact.
Corporate Evaluation of Chemical Research
From the corporate point of view, the chemical research organization is valued when it fulfills strategic corporate purposes. These may include creating breakthroughs, developing rapid innovations, broadening technological capabilities, driving new business, and supporting or expanding existing businesses.
Institutionally, the chemical organization may also be valued in direct relationship to the perceived effectiveness of its managers. Evidence of effective research management is sought in three regimes. Execution of advanced R&D that generates technology and products for the next generation of business needs is paramountly important. The formation of partnerships with business units either to create prototypes of new products and technology platforms or to jointly develop low-cost manufacturing technology objectives is an imperative as well. In administrative and policy areas, the implementation of processes that really work and the development of technology roadmaps are other expectations. Effective managers are also adept in people interaction dynamics or people skills, a talent that is difficult to describe but easy to discern when it is present (or absent).
There is considerable debate about the efficacy of metrics for determining research effectiveness. However, it is almost universally true that valued research will have been assessed by some type of method to measure its effectiveness and productivity. The most frequently applied metrics for gauging research effectiveness include output evaluations. This involves compiling a matrix of outputs (patent awards, inventions, intellectual property, percentage of revenues traceable to research, and so on) and assessing the value of the matrix of outputs. This quantitative, short-term approach to assessing research has several inherent limitations with respect to gauging the breakthrough and longer-range innovation potential of the research organization. To accomplish this assessment more effectively, the structure and fitness of the research organization are scrutinized and examinations made to determine whether the chemical R&D organization is doing the right things. Are there joint projects with business units? Are research strategies aligned with corporate and business strategies? Are innovations as well as inventions targeted? Are breakthroughs and sustaining products, processes, and technologies under development? By examining these and other questions, the corporation determines whether research programs are correctly targeted. This approach, when coupled with an outcome matrix, provides a more global assessment of research effectiveness.
Research Evaluations at the Organizational Level
The assessment of the value of research has a number of contingencies at the organizational level. In some cases, the genesis of the research imparts its own value. Thus, the method of evaluation may depend on how the research was started. For example, was it inspired by a strategic customer need? Did the market organization identify a window of opportunity? Did a management directive from a business unit or research organization fuel the R&D program? Sometimes, serendipity accompanying an ongoing investigation leads to a focus on new objectives. In addition to a dependence on its origin, the value of research is altered as the project moves through various phases. As the economic potential of the project increases in the direction shown in Figure 4.1, the risk decreases, and the value judgments used to assess the research change as it moves through each phase.