Direction and Process for Improving R&D
Around the year 1980, Japanese corporations began increasing their R&D budgets dramatically. Since the bursting of Japan's economic “Bubble” in 1990, these budgets have not decreased significantly but we do see today a sharp division between corporations that were able to develop new areas of business and those which were unable to achieve results. The difference is due to structural factors relating to organization and strategy.
Managerial tasks concerning the structural aspects of R&D activities can be divided into the following five areas: problems concerning strategy and direction, problems concerning choice of research themes and distribution of resources, process management, communication and human management.
How can corporations improve their R&D organizations? Although there is no universally applicable theory, in light of conditions in many Japanese corporations today, the following tasks should be important. 1) Review all research activities (R&D) in terms of compliance with corporate strategy and character of business operations and redefine activities with relation to profitability. 2) Redistribute resources allotted to each R&D theme boldly by concentrating resources on a smaller number of themes chosen by the entire management. 3) Actively break down stiff personnel and organizational patterns by increasing researcher mobility based on work record and potential capabilities.