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Management Challenges for STC directors A survey of issues and directions. Harm-Jan Steenhuis Denis Gray. The material is based upon work supported by the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. CHE-9876674. . Contents. Management areas Survey results

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Management Challenges for STC directors A survey of issues and directions

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Management challenges for stc directors a survey of issues and directions l.jpg

Management Challenges for STC directorsA survey of issues and directions

Harm-Jan Steenhuis

Denis Gray

The material is based upon work supported by the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. CHE-9876674.


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Contents

  • Management areas

  • Survey results

  • Directions for resources


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Abstract

This survey focuses on the challenges that STC directors face for managing STCs. The aim of this research is to identify areas for more detailed research as well as to provide STC management with information on where to find resources for particular management areas.


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Challenging areas for STC directors

E-mail survey to

all existing STC directors (the 1991 & 1999 cohort: 12+5 centers)

in which we asked these directors

to rate how challenging

nine STC management related areas

are to them.


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Management areas (1)

  • Administrative & Information Management: ‘Developing administrative policies and procedures; facilities planning and maintenance; sharing instrumentation and technical infrastructure; coordination of and communication with partners; maintaining liaison with NSF; maintaining liaison with university administration; planning site visits, External Advisory Board and other meetings; developing and maintaining information systems for NSF and other purposes; etc.’

  • Education; K-12:‘Planning the K-12 educational approach; identifying appropriate audiences; targeting minority and other under-served audiences; developing and implementing courses, workshops and activities; developing and disseminating materials; monitoring the quality; etc.’

  • Education; University: ‘Planning the educational approach; recruiting high quality students and post docs from diverse backgrounds (notably minorities, under-represented groups, and U.S. citizenship); developing and implementing challenging new curricula, courses, and other educational experiences; maintaining harmony among the diverse curriculum requirements placed on STC sponsored students; monitoring the quality; etc.


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Management areas (2)

  • Financial Management: ‘Developing a multi-year financial plan; developing annual budgets; securing funding from NSF; securing funding from industry and other sources; controlling expenses within the budget; controlling and evaluating the financial performance; preparing for audits; developing accounting systems; solving incompatibility issues of accounting systems among partners; etc.’

  • Human Resource Management:‘Planning the number of people and their tasks; recruiting high quality staff and scientists from diverse backgrounds (notably minorities, under-represented groups and U.S. citizenship); laying-off staff; providing performance feedback; maintaining effective communication among different functions and groups; etc.’

  • Knowledge and Technology Transfer: ‘Planning the approach to transfer; identifying firms and other potential beneficiaries; extending research and/or building prototypes to facilitate transfer; protecting intellectual property; developing and implementing strategies (e.g., meetings) for transferring results and artifacts to potential beneficiaries in a timely fashion; developing systems for tracking interaction with industry; monitoring success of efforts; etc.’


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Management areas (3)

  • Leadership: ‘Developing a center structure; delegating responsibilities; developing an effective management team; motivating staff and scientists; chairing management meetings; creating a challenging and motivating technical vision; balancing and achieving integration among research-educational-technology transfer efforts; planning for self sufficiency in research, technology transfer and education when STC sponsorship expire; etc.’

  • Research: ‘Developing and updating a focused multi-year research plan that is both challenging and promotes synergy between areas and projects; selecting new research projects; phasing down research projects; promoting effective communication and collaboration of projects within and between project areas and across different sites; monitoring progress and completion of projects; etc.’

  • Strategic & Marketing Management: ‘Developing a business plan/strategic plan for the center; identifying and recruiting External Advisory Board members; identifying and recruiting industry and other stakeholders; maintain industry members over an extended time period; developing and maintaining web site; developing public relations vehicles; developing and forging university and other partnerships; developing and distributing a newsletter; etc.’


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Scoring

Directors were asked to rate the ‘challenge’ of management areas on a scale from 1 to 5 where:

  • 1 = low challenge, easy to manage

  • 5 = high challenge, very hard to manage.


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Results survey on challenging areas


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Some specific comments (1)

  • Knowledge & technology transfer

    • for basic research it’s tough, the difficulties lie in identifying the partners who could benefit from the research

    • we have a very different set of issues, mostly due to many policy and social problems

    • not all centers are doing work that is so ‘applied’ as to permit quick transfer

  • Education: university

    • this is an area that takes time to build momentum and effort to sustain momentum

    • only moderately successful in recruiting from underrepresented groups because people simply weren’t “out there” in the numbers we needed


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Some specific comments (2)

  • Leadership

    • real tough, since STC by nature is a teamwork concept, runs smack against ‘academic freedom’ and ‘single PI research’ foundations of most higher education institutions. The difficulties magnify when STC involves in national and international research program

    • we all suffer from meeting fatigue

    • Planning for self sufficiency after the expiration of Center support for us has a degree of difficulty

    • many difficulties arise when a director is unable to make tough decisions


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Some specific comments (3)

  • Research

    • the research challenge is to make important discoveries. The process of building synergies and plans, promoting collaboration, monitoring progress is only useful if it facilitates great science

    • the challenge lies in flexibility and adaptation to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies and world

    • challenge has been to redefine one third of our effort while simultaneously maintaining a positive external appearance

    • balancing the individual interests of faculty with the goals of the center can be a challenge


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Some specific comments (4)

  • Administrative & Information Management

    • very challenging area when policies are developed

    • coordination with partners is difficult

    • never enough resources to staff properly

    • Regarding maintaining information systems for NSF (specifically for their database). The requirements listed are open to interpretation and need to be made less ambiguous.

    • monumental task

    • management of large, diversified group is challenging

    • one of the difficulties is that for the most part each Center has to invent the wheel depending upon how their institution defines “wheel”


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Some specific comments (5)

  • Financial Management

    • very challenging when the general policies are developed

    • compatibility among partners is a tough one. NSF has also been slow

    • challenges stem from not budgeting things adequately

    • We have had severe difficulties with the incompatibility issues of accounting systems.

    • greatest challenge is putting together a strong can-do team to handle these tasks


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Some specific comments (6)

  • Human Resource Management

    • the number and diversity of faculty have been a huge challenge

    • We have had some success with minorities on the staff but not amongst the scientists

    • too much challenge here, by nature STC does things differently (interdisciplinary) than other entities in the university

    • our large size poses some problems. Also trying to make our center more stakeholder driven and getting the output to exceed the sum of the parts is challenging

    • the final year will be challenging as we balance out our personnel needs with our ability to pay for their services


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Some specific comments (7)

  • Strategic & Marketing Management

    • industry partnerships have been minimal

    • lost web master and trouble replacing

    • staying in the lead is difficult

    • it would be good to see NSF take a more active role in publicizing the accomplishments of the Centers

  • Education: K-12

    • teachers are already overloaded, the question is how to help them understand what the STC does in a way that supports their many other teaching requirements

    • it takes considerable effort to get a program underway, there are many constituencies to serve and quite a bit of politicking may be required in the early stages


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Where do we go from here?

  • Continue more detailed research on research planning

    • Strategic approach to research may be the defining element of STC research.

    • high priority for STC directors.

    • Single best predictor of firm retention (Gray, Lindblad and Rudolph, 2001).

    • Very little is known on this topic.


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Suggestions for resources

  • Two available resources for similar programs are:

    • IUCRC: Gray, D.O., Walters, S.G., Managing the industry/university cooperative research center, Batelle Press, Columbus Richland, 1998.

    • ERC:ERC best practices manual at:http://www.erc-assoc.org/manual/bp_index.htm


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Particular areas:

  • Knowledge & technology transfer

    • ERC manual: chapter 4

    • Gray & Walters: chapter 9

  • Education: university

    • ERC manual: chapter 4

  • Leadership

    • ERC manual: chapter 2

    • Gray & Walters: chapter 10


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Particular areas:

  • Research

    • ERC manual: chapter 3

    • Gray & Walters: chapters 5 and 6

  • Administrative and Information Management

    • ERC manual: chapters 6 and 7

    • Gray & Walters: chapters 2 and 3


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Particular areas:

  • Financial Management

    • Gray & Walters: chapter 8

  • Human Resource Management

    • (no suggestions)

  • Strategic & Marketing Management

    • Gray & Walters: chapters 4,7 and 11

  • Education: K-12

    • (no suggestions)


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WE THANK ALL THE

PARTICIPATING DIRECTORS !!!

Acknowledgement: The material is based upon work supported by the STC Program of the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. CHE-9876674.


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