Bring Research and Innovation together: the missing link on management research in the EU funding framework

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question-markThe current EU policy and funding instruments have recognised that innovation consists of cross-disciplinary activities, which is not only limited to technological breakthroughs. Accordingly, a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of innovation processes and innovation management would certainly facilitate successful innovative activities in all sectors.

The challenge of implementing effective innovation management and robust innovation processes is still highly under-estimated and not sufficiently reflected in the current EU research and innovation programmes. It seems to be assumed that those capabilities and skills are readily available, which is not the case.

In the May and June CSF (now Horizon 2020) and EIT consultations, EFMD has been trying to stress that the level of innovation performance is strongly determined by the quality and effectiveness of innovation and research management including coordination, communication, dissemination of results and transfer into economic and social reality. More attention should be paid to the improvement of innovation processes, in addition to topics such as research infrastructure, researcher mobility and public-private partnerships.

When looking more closely at the current EU research and innovation funding initiatives which include; the seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and the Cohesion policy, the EU has tried to best cover innovation related issues from several different perspectives. For instance, the 7th Framework Programme supports EU research, technological development and demonstration activities. The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) takes SMEs as the main target, promoting access to finance and supporting the development of better innovation support services and policies.

Nevertheless, among the funding tools available, we still do not find effective funding to support research on better understanding of innovation processes, or how to improve the performance of research activities – where management skills and knowledge related issues are at a core.

Management research is eligible to be funded in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) domain under the 7th Framework Programme. However, it has never been recognised as a priority of the past SSH funding themes. So far, the SSH programme seems to target mainly macro socio-economic issues, not research on the development of management knowledge or skills – this is however the area where “the rubber hits the road”. For instance, themes from 2007 – 2011 cover topics such as: macro-economic policy (2007- 2008); education in the European knowledge society (2009); growth and service industries (2009); changing the role of the financial system to better serve economic, social and environmental objectives (2010); Euro and social services issues.

To elaborate further, with the currently dominating science and technology perspective of the EU research programmes, management research would not be taken seriously even under this chapter, which most would consider a “nice to have” addendum to serious scientific research. Hence it would be appropriate to open a new chapter, where economic research and management research are made explicit and equipped with appropriate funding.

Management researchers are aware that more management-related research activities may be funded via other programmes such as Ideas (ERC), People (Marie Curie Actions) and Capacities (e.g.’ Science in Society’). Nevertheless, these programmes either tend to take scientific discoveries as favoured starting points, or focus on mobility of researchers and research infrastructures.

Issues that derive from a full cycle of innovation processes are complex due to its cross-disciplinary nature. EFMD feels that it is a must to further invest in theoretical and empirical management research projects. Certainly, the research themes at the macro-economic level such as impacts from the latest financial crisis, the stability of the Euro-zone, education in a knowledge society are important. However, taking into account the current EU strategic objective to facilitate innovation related activities, supporting and promoting management research to enhance and improve innovation capabilities in Europe needs to get significantly more weight in the overall European Union research budgets.

The relevant EU initiatives on Innovation will reach results, only if the “last mile” for value creation is fully taken into account and the knowledge and skills to improve innovation performance are being developed, based on rigorous and application oriented management research.

You can find more information on EFMD's EU Affairs work here and also find EFMD on blogactiv: http://efmd.blogactiv.eu/



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