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Communication issues in Global R&D

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Florian Baron

on 17 October 2014

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Transcript of Communication issues in Global R&D

Video conference < Phone conference
Cultural differences & hierarchical thinking
Corporate language and “being less formal!”

Gate model
Follow-up system & reports database

Corporate socialization
Technology Forum

Rating projects, tangible aspects

Communication issues in Global R&D
Group 6
Managing global, distributed R&D, with a focus on communication - how do R&D departments organize and integrate their work?
Liyun Yang
Robert Merret
Rannar Sillard
Florian Baron
Vidhya Ponraj
“One of the most important productivity problems in R&D is stimulating communication among researchers . . . it becomes more difficult when laboratories
are located far from each other”

Arnoud De Meyer (1991)
Reasons to focus on communication in R&D organization
Time difference
Language, culture
Double work
Choice of companies to interview
Multinational companies
Willing to spend at least one hour with us (face to face)
Located around Stockholm
Various industries
Located in Uppsala
Many subsidiaries (Energy, Heathcare, Power, ...)
7 R&D centers worldwide (US, India, China, 4 in Europe)
Annual investment: $4.3 billion
Located in Västerås
Several divisions (Automation, Power products, ...)
7 research center worldwide (China, Germany, India, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, US)
Annual investment: $1.5 billion
Why communication can be an issue?
The companies we interviewed
Context - Communication in R&D centers
The observations, analysis, suggestions
The questions
Literature research & course material
Personal interest questions
Divided into two sections:
General R&D questions :
Communication questions:
sharing content of projects
communication with other people
Evolution of companies to a global scale to reach markets
Intense interaction between various players
Key aspect to preserve efficiency
Lack of clarity in unified goal
Effective use of Matrix structure
Information sharing platforms
Types of communication
Job Rotations
Employee socialization
Key aspects of communication
Cheap and easy to access
Secrecy (sometimes)
Structured knowledge
Means of communication
Conclusions & suggestions
ABB: improve their database system
GE: instant live messaging system
Thanks for listening!
Do you have any
The structures
The observations
Empirical observations
Communication at several scales:
Global unit
Project team
Knowledge transfer:
Reflection workshop
Job rotation
Corporate socialization

Assessment criteria
Empirical observations
Main directions:
Responsible for company strategy & product portfolio
Executive committee
Division managers (regional)
Business units
Product group
Global research area manager
Local research area manager

In charge of competence (formal reporting order)
Executive committee
Lab manager
Department manager
Local product group manager

Corporate socialization to be improved in both
Increase trust levels to aid Knowledge Transfer
Transfer of knowledge horizontally in ABB
Workshops & training across international units

Performance assessment is tangible in both
Beneficial but suffers knowledge transfer
Improving managerial awareness
Incentives for knowledge sharing
Full transcript