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Thread: To anybody who has worked in R&D or is familiar with it ..

  1. #1 To anybody who has worked in R&D or is familiar with it .. 
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    With regards to big R&D spenders like RIM, IBM, Pfizer, etc., who is the intermediary between the Business/Profitability side of the company and the Research side?

    Generally, who calls the shots regarding which direction R&D should be taken in? Who controls the teams of scientists and engineers and makes the decision regarding which area the research focuses on? What kind of credentials would this person usually have?
    If you're a scientist doing the technical work, are you simply at the mercy of what management chooses to do with you? Or are researchers given a degree of creativity in determining how they're going to reach the finished product?

    I'm just curious about how the process works. Generally, decisions like these are made by the big management folk of the company. However it seems like the scientists who are actually doing the work would probably provide much better insight into what would be viable or economical.


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    However it seems like the scientists who are actually doing the work would probably provide much better insight into what would be viable or economical.
    Not necessarily. Just look at tropical diseases. A lot of scientists would loooove to be involved with really interesting research in this area, but the companies don't see a financial payoff. So it rarely gets priority.


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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Not necessarily. Just look at tropical diseases. A lot of scientists would loooove to be involved with really interesting research in this area, but the companies don't see a financial payoff. So it rarely gets priority.
    This sounds iffy to me. Can you provide any examples as support for the statement?
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berlin View Post
    However it seems like the scientists who are actually doing the work would probably provide much better insight into what would be viable or economical.
    You're kidding, right?

    A scientist will pursue a line of inquiry if it's interesting.
    Commercial aspects don't enter into it.
    In order to decide what is commercially viable the scientist would have to know how the current market stands, what facilities are available for production, what resources can be applied to selling the thing, ... in short: he wouldn't be a scientist.
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    I worked in biopharma research, and I would say that the main focus of research at a company typically goes up to about the divisional level (as it did at my company) probably because of the huge costs and risks involved and because research generally drives the "direction" of the company into the future. A scientist will pursue the line of inquiry that the company pays the scientist to pursue and knows little or nothing about economic viability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berlin View Post
    However it seems like the scientists who are actually doing the work would probably provide much better insight into what would be viable or economical.
    ^ I worded this really, really badly.

    I think what I meant to say is that, the scientists who are doing the research would probably provide better insight as to how to viably achieve the company's goal (a faster processor, a stronger material, etc.) in a practical manner. They would have a better idea as to what the scope of the research should be, but the scope of the research would be decided by a higher-up. Which in my opinion would bar scientists from coming up with creative solutions and hurt productivity. Especially if the higher-up isn't a science professional. Correct me if I'm wrong though, I know literally nothing about the R&D process.

    If you're a research scientist, how often are you being told what to do, and how to do your job, by somebody who knows absolutely nothing about what it is that you're actually researching?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berlin View Post
    I think what I meant to say is that, the scientists who are doing the research would probably provide better insight as to how to viably achieve the company's goal (a faster processor, a stronger material, etc.) in a practical manner.
    In my experience of good (successful) engineering companies, there is exactly this two-way flow of information between engineering and marketing/management. Especially in startups.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Berlin View Post
    I think what I meant to say is that, the scientists who are doing the research would probably provide better insight as to how to viably achieve the company's goal (a faster processor, a stronger material, etc.) in a practical manner.
    In my experience of good (successful) engineering companies, there is exactly this two-way flow of information between engineering and marketing/management. Especially in startups.
    Alright, so when you say that there's a "two-way flow" of info, the researchers do have a say in how they do their work? Meaning the researchers can apply a degree of creativity in how they achieve the company's goal?
    Sorry for the bombardment of questions. I need to have a solid argument for one of my papers and need to double check everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berlin View Post
    Alright, so when you say that there's a "two-way flow" of info, the researchers do have a say in how they do their work? Meaning the researchers can apply a degree of creativity in how they achieve the company's goal?
    Sorry for the bombardment of questions. I need to have a solid argument for one of my papers and need to double check everything.
    It varies. Sometimes the "management" and the engineering team are the same people. Sometimes there is some process for excahnging ideas. Sometimes the engineers quietly do what they want in "spare" time and produce something successful which the management then have to accept.
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