The Use of consortia for the management of research and development: the Clemson University ETIP flammability project

by Richard A. Rettig

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Reports on a consortium supported by the Department of Commerce made up of three universities, one government laboratory, one not-for-profit organization, and four private firms. The technical purpose was to develop a commercial process for flame retarding polyester/cotton fabrics. The organizational purpose was to assess the feasibility of commercial innovation through a consortium. The effort was considered successful, though a commercial product was not developed. An evaluation was made by RAND to assess the consortium approach to R&D management. Conclusions: (1) Private firm participation depends on government sponsorship, assurance of no antitrust problems, and no disclosure of proprietary information. (2) Leadership requires a technically competent individual, effective in communication, willing to spend time in communication and coordination. (3) Trust among participants is an important precondition as well as an important byproduct. Use of consortia to commercialize results should be undertaken only after determining that the role of government extends to commercialization.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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