A Study of R&D Team Leadership Roles, Gaps in Role Execution and Team Performance Outcomes
R&D is the mother of many technological innovations, provides an economic advantage and is imperative in the growth story of any nation. Particularly for a developing nation like India, R&D growth and sustenance helps to keep pace with the developed countries, who are the competitive forerunners and exporters of advanced technologies. Literature suggests several internal and external factors that lead to success and failures of R&D. This research focuses its scope on R&D team leadership, which literature reports as one of the most highly regarded internal/humanistic factors, that significantly contributes to R&D team performance. Much of the leadership research since 1980s is on leadership traits, styles, theories, etc. We narrow down the wide taxonomies of leadership to a few specific roles. We build a role-inventory and propose the ‘critical five’ roles which are indispensable for R&D team performance. We propose a ‘role-based model of R&D team leadership’ as the conceptual framework. This research stresses on dual focus of R&D team leaders towards their team, considering roles both internal and external to teams. We also acknowledge the idea of various contingency factors influencing the ‘role-performance’ relationship. A gap in execution of critical roles may undermine the performance and productivity of R&D teams. Thus, further to the exploration of ‘role-performance’ relationship and effect of moderators on this association, we conduct a gap analysis of critical R&D team leadership roles. This research focusses on the public sector R&D labs, and data primarily collected from the CSIR labs of India, is subjected to validation. At the outset, we assess the factor structure and measurement scales for the five roles. This is an additional step to ensure the suitability of the theory-derived scales, for the purpose of this study. We further use PLS-SEM, to assess the measurement and structural aspects of the ‘role-based’ model and provide its empirical validation. After having ascertained the ‘role-performance’ association, we perform interaction moderation analysis to study the moderating effect of situational variables on the ‘role-performance’ relationship. Further, we analyse the presence and severity of a role-gaps. Findings suggest a significantly positive association between the five proposed roles and team performance outcomes. Moderating effects suggest the extent of emphasis that a team leader needs to put on each role, depending upon situation confronted. Findings also suggest presence of low-moderate gap in the execution of the five roles critical for team performance. Suggestions to address the gaps are also proposed. Finally, based on the research findings, we make recommendations to the R&D labs, which would be useful in the staffing, appraisal, training and development exercises of R&D team leadership.