The influence of social factors on the performance of a center: a case study of the "University Research Center"

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Virginia Tech


Factors involved in the development and performance of interdisciplinary university based research centers were investigated by an analytical case study of one such center, the "University Research Center" (URC). A description of URC's life cycle and the various factors that affected its performance is presented. The sociocognitive ideals of university-based research centers emphasized the promotion of interdisciplinary research and education. The organizational reality, however, showed that a variety of other factors, both internal and external to a center, may significantly influence its operations. Factors internal to URC included leadership, support of loyal participants and their motivations to participate in interdisciplinary research. External factors included the effects of university departments and the availability of funds. The interpretation of these factors made it possible to construct generalizations about the organizational characteristics of university-based research centers. In order to function effectively, a university-based research center must manage its sociocognitive ideals and its organizational characteristics simultaneously and with some degree of balance.