The Infrastructure of Research Administration at the RAND Corporation: A Case Study of The Social and Economic Policy Units
In 2014, the Social and Economic Policy Units (or research units) at the RAND Corporation went through centralization which created new job titles and new job descriptions for research administrators, allowed research units to share research administrative staff, and introduced new tools for research staff to enhance research productivity. For this capstone project, the author examined whether centralization was effective by exploring whether it provided more opportunities for growth for research administration staff, whether job satisfaction had increased, whether research administration customer service had improved, whether research staff felt more supported by tools and resources, and whether research administration leads felt more supported in their units because of the centralization. The author administered a survey to the personnel within the research units and analyzed the results in order to determine whether centralization was successful. There were 30 responses to the survey out of 41 potential respondents. Responses to the survey showed that centralization was largely a success among respondents. However, there were varied reactions to several components of the centralization, such as communication with research staff about the changes caused by centralization, revision of policies such as the timeliness of proposal scheduling, provision of more opportunities for research administrators to grow professionally and better understand their jobs, and more communication among research administration leads is still warranted. Using current literature review, the author made eleven recommendations from the findings of the survey which included using performance metrics to evaluate change, providing more opportunities for training, developing a more personalized training plan for research administrators, and explaining the supervisor’s role in change management. The recommendations in this project provide a good opportunity for further improvement and enhancement of the centralization of research units at the RAND Corporation.