Practices of successful organisations applied to Centres of Excellence in New Zealand
Engineering management research undertaken at the University of Canterbury's Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre) in Christchurch, New Zealand, looks at entities which are fast becoming common place among many institutions internationally, called Centres of Excellence (COE). These strive to bridge the gap between public sector and private sector capabilities, including academia and industry, in the pursuit of knowledge and enterprise. COE are physical or virtual centres of research which concentrate existing capacity and resources, in order to enhance the pursuit of excellence, typically on Research and Development (R&D). These enable personnel to collaborate across disciplines and institutions / on programmes or projects, either long-term or short-term, that are locally relevant and/or internationally significant. The first phase of the research takes a 'big picture' overview on what organisations need in terms of culture and practice to enable successful operation in a wider context. It applies current practices of successful organisations and business leaders to the COE concept in New Zealand. A range of organisations have been studied, including the writings of both academics and managers, to look at factors that make organisations successful in three dimensions, namely strategy, culture, and operation. Some areas examined include bridging the knowing-doing gap, flexibility, attitudes, interdependence and independence. The ultimate objective of the research is to develop a definitive conceptual model for COE, linking both strategic and organisational factors in an engineering context that could potentially serve as a 'global guide' to assist with the establishment, operation, and growth of seemingly boundary-less (national or international) COE.