Principal Investigator and Department Administrator Perceptions of Services Provided by Offices of Research Administration at Research Universities
University of South Florida, 2010
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research study was to determine what service attributes were perceived as important factors for a successful Office of Research Administration (ORA) to provide to principal investigators and department administrators. Initially established more than 50 years ago, The Office of Research Administration (ORA) has evolved into an integral component for the fiscal sustainability of many institutions of higher education. Existing performance metrics based on financial measures do not sufficiently capture the quality of the level of service demands placed on the ORA by the two internal user groups. The conceptual basis of the Balanced Scorecard modified for the non-profit sector served as the theoretical framework. The study involved 668 respondents (433 principal investigators and 235 department administrators) from 72 research universities. Principal investigators and department administrators agreed on 18 service items as important performance metrics for successful Offices of Research Administration. However, the two groups did vary somewhat in the degree of importance of these 18 service items. Four services, responding to email and phone messages within 24-48 hours, easy access to forms, and timely setup of the internal award account were identified as priority factors by greater than 90 percent of the principal investigators. In addition to these four items, another six items-trainings for new employees and training updates for existing employees, equal treatment by the ORA, easy access to policies, and promoting a team effort approach to research-were identified as prior factors by greater than 90% of the department administrators. Demographics did not display a significant relationship in the perceptions of either group. Principal investigators did display a higher satisfaction for level of performance for the items of importance, especially related to the priority factors at their current institutions.
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