R&D laboratory classification and public policy: The effects of environmental context on laboratory behavior

Michael Crow, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


R&D laboratories have changed dramatically in the last few decades. These changes have included the emergence of new laboratory forms such as cooperative and joint venture laboratories and the evolution of existing industrial, university and government laboratories into new and different entities. The utility of classifying R&D organizations as being industrial, university or governmental in character and then further assuming certain behavioral traits based on sector status appears to be limited. Science policy analysts need an updated classification typology that captures the nature of the existing institutional framework for R&D laboratories. To address this need, this paper presents a new conceptual typology for R&D laboratory classification and evaluates the implications of this re-thinking for science policy analysts. It is argued that R&D laboratories, like most organizations, are to a large extent functions of their environment. Realizing that the environment of R&D organizations are heavily influenced by the government, the market or both, the typology presented in this paper classifies R&D organizations accordingly. The resulting classification typology establishes 9 clearly different research laboratory types. Using survey data from a study population of 250 laboratories and case study data from 32 laboratories, it was found that the typology did capture the significant structural and behavioral differences among the array of laboratories operating today. A preliminary analysis of the policy implications of the new classification typology indicates that new initiatives to increase the level of market influence on R&D laboratories or to create more cooperative research ventures should be carefully considered before implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-258
Number of pages30
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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