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University of St. Gallen publishes study on the reputation of European research organizations

IBM Research - Zurich identified as premiere industrial research lab

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Zurich, Switzerland—April 25, 2008: A recent study conducted by the University of St. Gallen (HSG) in Switzerland revealed that in central Europe the German Fraunhofer Institutes, the Max Planck Society and IBM Research - Zurich are perceived as the three premiere institutions in research and development (R&D), ahead of the R&D departments of Siemens and Philips. For this study, 112 European R&D managers were surveyed and asked to rank 33 public and industrial organizations.

When asked for the key criteria that determined their ranking, the majority of the participants listed scientific breakthroughs and leadership in a specific research area. Other criteria that are also considered to be of importance are commercial impact of the results, smart solutions to scientific problems, and the transferability of the scientific results. These aspects influenced the ranking made by managers in industrial organizations more strongly than that by managers in public institutions. Another key criterion mentioned by both groups was the reputation of individual scientists, whereas having a broad research portfolio was clearly of least importance for the rating of an institution’s reputation.

Earlier studies such as the ones of HSG Professor Beat Schmid showed already that reputation is of increasing importance in the context of the stakeholder management of an enterprise. The current study revealed that for R&D organizations, this is especially true in respect of their ability to attract top talents as future employees and for negotiating strategic research partnerships. However, reputation alone does not suffice to recruit young top researchers—unless it is accompanied by attractive working conditions. These include, among others, the freedom to publish, a culture of open discussion, and the possibility of setting up a flexible work schedule. This aspect would be an ideal subject for a follow-on study so as to gain further insight into these criteria.

Reputation also plays a key role in the selection of research partners. Here an outstanding reputation is a prerequisite for making the shortlist. Interestingly enough, personal relations to experts working for the other organization are a further selection criterion of considerable importance. If no such relations exist, says the study, the openness of the potential partner in handling intellectual property becomes a decisive factor.

The study was supported by the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency (CTI), and developed and conducted by the HSG Institute of Technology Management. It is the result of the first phase of a CTI project on research brand equity. Its goal is to develop a methodology to measure research brands as well as a toolbox to influence and manage such brands, with the aim of enhancing the innovation performance. In the next phase of the project, such a toolbox will be developed, tested, and optimized at the IBM Zurich Research Lab. Finally, in the third phase, the toolbox will be disseminated in the Swiss market with the support of the BWG Management Advisory Group.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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