Inside a contract research laboratory: A study of concepts, methods and performance: Dissertation

Kari Leppälä

Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph


Evolution of new technologies and new products originates from industrial innovation processes, from academic research communities and from specialised research and development laboratories in the public and private sector. Efficient means for technology diffusion and technology transfer are necessary for the sharing of commonly usable knowledge, and for the utilisation of public investments in technology. The rational model of R&D supposes the use of planning, project organisation and project management techniques. However, little is known about how successful or efficient this approach is for such delicate and complex activities. This study is focused on methods, implementation and performance of contract research at one unit of VTT. The study provides an internal view of contract research, based on actual technical and administrational documents and assessments of project managers. Altogether 59 projects are analysed, covering the years 1983 - 1992. The philosophical and methodological framework for technology development are introduced. The analysis includes carriers of technological information, cultural, organisational and managerial impacts and human cognitive constraints. A special emphasise is on R&D contracts: matching the industrial innovation process with the contract laboratory's service concept and core competence. The empirical part of the study covers different phases of contract research: project implementation and control, research and design methods and performance attributes of the work. The study exposes an established contract implementation pattern, controlled by mature project control techniques. This results in fair technical success of projects. More attention should be paid to organisational learning and technology transfer. Suggested approaches are activation of the client's organisation, flexible arrangements for technological co-operation and conditions for accumulation of core competence.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Oulu
  • Jutila, Esa, Supervisor, External person
Award date12 Jun 1995
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs951-38-4765-9
Publication statusPublished - 1995
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • contract research
  • R&D management
  • research management
  • technology transfer
  • project management
  • innovation
  • electronics engineering
  • software engineering
  • research methods
  • process development
  • technology development


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