The evolution of megascience project leadership

Eggleton, David (2019) The evolution of megascience project leadership. In: Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy 2019, 14th - 16th October 2019, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA.

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Background and rationale - A development within the last century in scientific research has been the need for very large apparatus to explore new experimental fields, notably within high-energy physics. These ‘megascience projects’, which have a minimum budget of one billion US dollars, are generally undertaken as cooperative ventures by countries seeking to exploit scientific opportunities. Such projects are characterized by high levels of technological uncertainty, because success will likely depend on the development of new highly-advanced technologies. However, there is a notable lack of research into the leadership of megascience projects.
Methods and Research Questions - The projects investigated were the Tevatron at Fermilab, near Chicago IL, and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN on the border between France and Switzerland. This research used a combination of archival and interview-based research to develop two case studies that answered three research questions: (1) What are the characteristics of those who lead megascience projects? (2) Where were their leadership skills developed? (3) How were their leadership skills developed?
Results and significance - The most important finding was the tailoring of senior leadership selection according to the needs of specific project phases. Four phases were identified: initiation, approval, construction, and exploitation. During the project there was a transition in senior leader characteristics from a transformational autocracy to an increasingly laissez-faire style. The characteristics of successful leaders of megascience projects at all organizational levels include 1) the primacy of technical competence, 2) strong management ability, 3) trustworthiness, and 4) team empowerment. This is somewhat unusual compared to other projects on this scale. The experiential nature of leadership training within megascience projects is also critical for success, with formal leadership training programs acting in a support role at most. This work also has implications for the next generation of megascience projects which is addressed as a conclusion.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Keywords: megascience, research infrastructure, leadership, lifeycles, science policy
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0708 Social capital
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0711 Groups and organisations > HM0756 Community
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States) > JK0001 United States > JK0404 Government. Public administration > JK1606 Capital. Public buildings. Government property. Government purchasing
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0030 European Union. European Community. European communities
Q Science > QC Physics > QC0770 Nuclear and particle physics. Atomic energy. Radioactivity
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Depositing User: David Christopher Eggleton
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 09:34
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2020 14:13

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