2Work in R&D and its Transformations

Work in R&D has changed considerably since the 1990s, and currently, it is still going through important changes, some of which are only in their infancy. From the past, present and future transformations of R&D efforts, strong challenges are emerging in R&D management, from the management of project activities to human resources and knowledge management (see also Chapters 46). To understand the way in which R&D work has transformed, in section 2.1, we describe its specific characteristics in relation to the work carried out in other areas of the business, while also considering the heterogeneity that exists within R&D activities. In section 2.2, we explain the main developments in R&D over the last 25 years, which are currently well established in the organization of R&D in large industrial enterprises. We begin section 2.3 by highlighting how some of these mutations in R&D can give rise to tensions, for example, the rise of the project form and increasing performance pressures. Then, we indicate some current trends, which are still largely in the making, as well as some concerns regarding the future of R&D work and function, notably the questions of outsourcing, internationalization of R&D and the effects of open innovation and digital revolution of R&D work.

2.1. Specifics of R&D work and its heterogeneity

R&D comprises specific activities, which stand out from other major functions of the company mainly because of their unconventional ...

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