Building Knowledge about the Management of Large-Scale Research Projects: The Value of a Good Case

Janice Thomas / Stella George / Svetlana Cicmil

Interdisciplinary and collaborative research is both necessary for the advancement of some areas of research (project management included) and difficult to do effectively. There is widespread recognition that some issues are sufficiently intellectually challenging and cross enough disciplinary boundaries that the only way to effectively address them is to breach these boundaries and work in interdisciplinary teams. Funding agencies the world over are encouraging researchers to work in this manner. What is missing from this widespread recognition of the need for collaborative interdisciplinary research is guidance how to manage largely self-directed subject experts to work collectively. To contribute to this guidance, we present a case analysis of one such project analyzed in light of management literature and theory around interdisciplinary research, identifying the management challenges and approaches for successful large-scale research team collaboration. Our consideration has also led toward insights into the dynamic nature of collaboration in large team research work.