Ensuring technical competency for management of research-focused organizations

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Ensuring technical competency for management of research-focused organizations. / Pearce, Joshua M.

In: Journal of High Technology Management Research, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2018, p. 172-180.

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@article{4ad6a17e5e3448c7880703632188b721,
title = "Ensuring technical competency for management of research-focused organizations",
abstract = "Does a national research-focused organization need a technically competent leader? This study provides preliminary answers to that question using a natural experiment underway at the Department of Energy (DOE): a leader with significant high-level management experience superior to that of his predecessors, but no relevant technical experience was appointed to run the vast scientific research operation. The following hypothesis is proposed: A major risk of allowing technically-unqualified leadership is that an amateur can be more easily manipulated by special interests against the best interests of the nation. The hypothesis is tested by technically analyzing three case studies on proposals from the Secretary of Energy. The results show 1) requests for budget cuts undermining DOE's mission, 2) requests for redundant studies wasting DOE resources, and 3) counter-productive recommendations derived from a misrepresentation of the studies' results, which indicate technical competence is important for DOE leadership. These preliminary results indicate technical competency is important for leaders running organizations that oversee research. Finally, a potential policy safe guard to the risks of extreme technical incompetence is provided, which can be applied to either independent- or politically-appointed bureaucrats.",
keywords = "Bureaucrats, Leadership, Management, Political appointments, Research organization, Technical competence",
author = "Pearce, {Joshua M.}",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.1016/j.hitech.2018.09.002",
language = "English",
volume = "29",
pages = "172--180",
journal = "Journal of High Technology Management Research",
issn = "1047-8310",
publisher = "Elsevier BV",
number = "2",

}

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Ensuring technical competency for management of research-focused organizations

AU - Pearce, Joshua M.

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - Does a national research-focused organization need a technically competent leader? This study provides preliminary answers to that question using a natural experiment underway at the Department of Energy (DOE): a leader with significant high-level management experience superior to that of his predecessors, but no relevant technical experience was appointed to run the vast scientific research operation. The following hypothesis is proposed: A major risk of allowing technically-unqualified leadership is that an amateur can be more easily manipulated by special interests against the best interests of the nation. The hypothesis is tested by technically analyzing three case studies on proposals from the Secretary of Energy. The results show 1) requests for budget cuts undermining DOE's mission, 2) requests for redundant studies wasting DOE resources, and 3) counter-productive recommendations derived from a misrepresentation of the studies' results, which indicate technical competence is important for DOE leadership. These preliminary results indicate technical competency is important for leaders running organizations that oversee research. Finally, a potential policy safe guard to the risks of extreme technical incompetence is provided, which can be applied to either independent- or politically-appointed bureaucrats.

AB - Does a national research-focused organization need a technically competent leader? This study provides preliminary answers to that question using a natural experiment underway at the Department of Energy (DOE): a leader with significant high-level management experience superior to that of his predecessors, but no relevant technical experience was appointed to run the vast scientific research operation. The following hypothesis is proposed: A major risk of allowing technically-unqualified leadership is that an amateur can be more easily manipulated by special interests against the best interests of the nation. The hypothesis is tested by technically analyzing three case studies on proposals from the Secretary of Energy. The results show 1) requests for budget cuts undermining DOE's mission, 2) requests for redundant studies wasting DOE resources, and 3) counter-productive recommendations derived from a misrepresentation of the studies' results, which indicate technical competence is important for DOE leadership. These preliminary results indicate technical competency is important for leaders running organizations that oversee research. Finally, a potential policy safe guard to the risks of extreme technical incompetence is provided, which can be applied to either independent- or politically-appointed bureaucrats.

KW - Bureaucrats

KW - Leadership

KW - Management

KW - Political appointments

KW - Research organization

KW - Technical competence

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85054460818&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.hitech.2018.09.002

DO - 10.1016/j.hitech.2018.09.002

M3 - Article

VL - 29

SP - 172

EP - 180

JO - Journal of High Technology Management Research

JF - Journal of High Technology Management Research

SN - 1047-8310

IS - 2

ER -

ID: 28874751