Problems of Managing Industrial Research: An Interview With Robert L. Hershey

by C. Churchman



The article presents an interview with Robert L. Hershey, a recently retired Vice President and now a member of the Board of Directors of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Wilmington, Delaware. A former assistant professor of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined Du Pont as a researcher and rose to top management. General topics of the interview revolved around such problems as: What kind of research environment is optimal in industry? What are the tasks of the research manager? Should research and development planning be primarily geared to long-range net profit? If university graduates' perceptions of research and development (R&D) in private industry are negative, what are the reasons? According to Hershey, "There may be a certain skepticism or uneasiness in some areas of industry about research, perhaps among people without any real experience in industrial R&D." On asking about the reason for uneasiness, he replied, "Basically, the details of the management side of research have not been thought through, except in a very small number of industrial firms. But I think it's unlikely this uneasiness has any great bearing on the negative or neutral attitude on the campus toward research in private industry."

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