An antiviral disinfectant research and development process model for small to medium enterprises based within the United Kingdom
Dean, Andrew Kristoffer
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Viral infections have produced commercial drivers to develop products to treat and reduce viral outbreaks and infections. Antiviral disinfectants have found particular favour in limiting new infections. The nature of viruses has however necessitated a continued stream of products successfully moving through the research and development (R&D) stage into commercial usage. With high product failure rates in R&D, and difficulties for executive and R&D managers to communicate effectively in the R&D stage, there was a perceived need from within the sector to further elucidate antiviral disinfectant R&D. Prior research had shown that the R&D stage is technically sophisticated with a requirement for management to engage in the technical, scientific and business aspects. This can be challenging for management decision-making, as many aspects of R&D, have different levels of knowledge required as well as language used. The use of models has received much attention in simplifying the R&D stage, but with little attention paid to creating shared meaning between different managers. In this study, executive and R&D managers from antiviral disinfectant UK based R&D SMEs were examined, using semi-structured case study interviews within a phenomenological paradigm. Explicitation was used to draw out meaning from respondent interviews, which showed that executive and R&D managers were from business and scientific backgrounds respectively. This resulted in difficulties in communication about R&D between manager types, which added to the opacity of R&D. It was noted that executive managers had greater knowledge of wider organisational aims for R&D, but little knowledge about what was carried out in the R&D stage. Conversely, R&D managers had greater knowledge about the scientific testing carried out in R&D, but little understanding of the business drivers of R&D. Using interview information, an alpha and beta model were constructed that showed a linear path through R&D, based predominantly on technical stages. An expanded view of the model was utilised to aid in R&D and executive management sense made of the R&D. This model contributed to the knowledge base through shared and warranted knowledge between R&D and executive managers as well as expanded model views of each of the R&D process stages. Both of these factors are novel and have created new academic knowledge as well as this model currently being used by three respondent companies.