Strategy adopted by research associations for success

Bennett, John (2012). Strategy adopted by research associations for success. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis presents results of a study of the strategy adopted by UK research associations which led to success. The success of research associations, being not for profit organisations, was measured in terms of sustainable growth.

Research associations were established as a result of a government initiative to improve the performance of sectors of British industry. Initially they were financed by way of membership subscriptions and a related government grant. With the decline in the size ofthe manufacturing sectors they served and the removal of government grant, research associations have had to make the transition from publicly supported co-operative research associations to independent privately financed research institutes.

The identification of the strategy was based on the analysis of documentary archival, interview and questionnaire data. A case study approach was adopted. The research associations were selected and evaluated in pairs to reduce the effect of the external environment, including the influence of the sector the research associations served.

Pilot interviews indicated the importance of governance as well as strategy to these organisations. The study therefore included consideration of research associations' governance. The data collected and analysed for case study research associations enabled both their strategy and governance to be classified using the theoretical models of Whittington (2001) and Cornforth (2003) respectively.

The more successful research associations were found to have adopted an evolutionary perspective on strategy and a partnership model of organisational governance. Size contributed to success, with the larger research associations exhibiting superior sustainable growth.

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