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Organizational design of University laboratories : Task allocation and lab performance in Japanese bioscience laboratories

Shibayama, Sotaro LU ; Baba, Yasunori and Walsh, John P. (2015) In Research Policy 44(3). p.610-622
Abstract

A university laboratory is a fundamental unit of scientific production, but optimizing its organizational design is a formidable task for lab heads, who play potentially conflicting roles of manager, educator, and researcher. Drawing on cross-sectional data from a questionnaire survey and bibliometric data on Japanese biology professors, this study investigates task allocation inside laboratories. Results show a general pattern that lab heads play managerial roles and members (e.g., students) are engaged in labor-intensive tasks (e.g., experiment), while revealing a substantial variation among laboratories. Further examining how this variation is related to lab-level scientific productivity, this study finds that productive task... (More)

A university laboratory is a fundamental unit of scientific production, but optimizing its organizational design is a formidable task for lab heads, who play potentially conflicting roles of manager, educator, and researcher. Drawing on cross-sectional data from a questionnaire survey and bibliometric data on Japanese biology professors, this study investigates task allocation inside laboratories. Results show a general pattern that lab heads play managerial roles and members (e.g., students) are engaged in labor-intensive tasks (e.g., experiment), while revealing a substantial variation among laboratories. Further examining how this variation is related to lab-level scientific productivity, this study finds that productive task allocation differs by context. In particular, results suggest that significant task overlap across status hierarchies is more productive for basic research, and that rigidly separated task allocation is more productive in applied research. However, optimal task allocation, with regard to scientific productivity, might conflict with other goals of academic organizations, particularly training of future scientists. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.

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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
biology, laboratory, organizational design, scientific productivity, task allocation
in
Research Policy
volume
44
issue
3
pages
13 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84923169607
ISSN
0048-7333
DOI
10.1016/j.respol.2014.12.003
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
f1732553-1e04-421f-95af-eb846eee86ca
date added to LUP
2017-04-13 17:51:23
date last changed
2017-10-22 05:29:22
@article{f1732553-1e04-421f-95af-eb846eee86ca,
  abstract     = {<p>A university laboratory is a fundamental unit of scientific production, but optimizing its organizational design is a formidable task for lab heads, who play potentially conflicting roles of manager, educator, and researcher. Drawing on cross-sectional data from a questionnaire survey and bibliometric data on Japanese biology professors, this study investigates task allocation inside laboratories. Results show a general pattern that lab heads play managerial roles and members (e.g., students) are engaged in labor-intensive tasks (e.g., experiment), while revealing a substantial variation among laboratories. Further examining how this variation is related to lab-level scientific productivity, this study finds that productive task allocation differs by context. In particular, results suggest that significant task overlap across status hierarchies is more productive for basic research, and that rigidly separated task allocation is more productive in applied research. However, optimal task allocation, with regard to scientific productivity, might conflict with other goals of academic organizations, particularly training of future scientists. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.</p>},
  author       = {Shibayama, Sotaro and Baba, Yasunori and Walsh, John P.},
  issn         = {0048-7333},
  keyword      = {biology,laboratory,organizational design,scientific productivity,task allocation},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {610--622},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Research Policy},
  title        = {Organizational design of University laboratories : Task allocation and lab performance in Japanese bioscience laboratories},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2014.12.003},
  volume       = {44},
  year         = {2015},
}