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Organisationsstrukturen und Produktentwicklung

Prof. Dr. Thomas J. Allen

HENN Akademie, July 7, 1996

Market and technology orientated companies are variously organised. The needs of the market are defined as products and services. This is why market-orientated companies are governed by the dictates of the market. For them, the latest results of research are not so important. They are only interested in what the customer wants. On the other hand, companies which are purely research-oriented often lose sight of what the market really wants, i.e. what will subsequently be marketable.

Therefore, Tom Allen recommends a case-by-case consideration of what kind of organisation a company most urgently needs for the project in question – a departmental organisation or rather a project team organisation. Individual work is co-ordinated and amalgamated in a project team organisation. The department does not lose sight of the customer. But what of the apportionment of work; who continues to work in the individual departments and who assists in the new project and how are both areas meaningfully brought together?

As becomes clear from Tom Allen’s graphs, both have to be combined. A well functioning company needs both aspects – it must be at the peak of research and in addition must not lose sight of the market. Therefore, its managers must carefully consider the nature of the project and what decisions are to be taken, whether temporary project teams can quickly solve a task or whether they are faced with a long-term assignment, for which specialists in research lasting many years are needed.

Tom Allen is of the opinion that both market and research orientated representatives must be present, both in the department and in the team. What is important is to find the right balance between the two; this has to be redefined for each project. Based on many investigations, as his graphs show, his particular interest here is in the various specialists and individualists and in their role and importance, both in the team and in the department.


Thomas J. Allen studied physics at Upsala College in East Orange (New Jersey) and electrical engineering and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. He is the Howard W. Johnson professor of management, emeritus and professor of organisational studies at the Sloan School of Management at the MIT. With emphasis on organisational psychology and management, Allen researches the relationships between organisational structure and behaviour, the role of information regulators in technology transfer and the influence of building configurations on communication.

Thomas J. Allen
Prof. Dr.