Volume 9 Issue 1 (2013)
Main Articles

The Business of Research in Art and Design: Parallels Between Research Centres and Small Businesses

Seymour Roworth-Stokes
Coventry School of Art & Design, Coventry University
Published August 13, 2013
  • research centre,
  • case study,
  • research management,
  • research team,
  • intrapreneurship,
  • research funding,
  • university system,
  • research assessment,
  • artistic research,
  • design-oriented research,
  • organisational development,
  • small & medium-sized enterprises
  • ...More


This article provides a cross-case analysis of four art and design research centres operating within UK universities. Findings from autobiographical and semi-structured interviews with researchers, research managers, and research leaders indicate that they encounter similar issues in trying to establish internal legitimacy within the university alongside the need to gain external support and recognition. In dealing with these challenges, art and design research centres tend to pass through four broadly identifiable phases: (i) Origination (utilising credentials and leadership capacity), (ii) Establishment (securing resources and embedding dedicated systems and processes), (iii) Development (furthering profile, diversifying, and retaining autonomy), and (iv) Sustainability (enhancing research culture, networks, and influence). Many interesting parallels are evident with the way small businesses strive to establish themselves within competitive market environments. Lessons for research managers and directors are explored to consider such similarities in key areas of responsibility that cover leadership, managing people and processes, developing organisational capacity, and building external networks. The research suggests research centre directors must demonstrate many intrapreneurial qualities to overcome obstacles in the development of a successful research team and that university departments can make substantial organisational interventions to help them succeed.