Organizational Design of University Laboratories: Task Allocation and Lab Performance in Japanese Bioscience Laboratories

37 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2014

See all articles by Sotaro Shibayama

Sotaro Shibayama

Lund University - Department of Business Administration; University of Tokyo

Yasunori Baba

University of Tokyo

John P. Walsh

Georgia Institute of Technology

Date Written: December 14, 2014

Abstract

A university laboratory is a fundamental unit of scientific production, but optimizing its organizational design is a formidable task for lab heads, who play potentially conflicting roles of manager, educator, and researcher. Drawing on cross-sectional data from a questionnaire survey and bibliometric data on Japanese biology professors, this study investigates task allocation inside laboratories. Results show a general pattern that lab heads play managerial roles and members (e.g., students) are engaged in labor-intensive tasks (e.g., experiment), while revealing a substantial variation among laboratories. Further examining how this variation is related to lab-level scientific productivity, this study finds that productive task allocation differs by context. In particular, results suggest that significant task overlap across status hierarchies is more productive for basic research, and that rigidly separated task allocation is more productive in applied research. However, optimal task allocation, with regard to scientific productivity, might conflict with other goals of academic organizations, particularly training of future scientists. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings.

Keywords: Laboratory, task allocation, organizational design, scientific productivity, bioscience

Suggested Citation

Shibayama, Sotaro and Baba, Yasunori and Walsh, John P., Organizational Design of University Laboratories: Task Allocation and Lab Performance in Japanese Bioscience Laboratories (December 14, 2014). Research Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2538103

Sotaro Shibayama (Contact Author)

Lund University - Department of Business Administration ( email )

Box 117
SE-221 00 Lund, S-220 07
Sweden

University of Tokyo ( email )

Hongo 7-3-1
Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8656
Japan

HOME PAGE: http://sotaroshibayama.weebly.com/

Yasunori Baba

University of Tokyo ( email )

Hongo 7-3-1
Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo 113-0033, Tokyo
Japan

John P. Walsh

Georgia Institute of Technology ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

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