The way the UK's publicly funded scientific research establishments are run could hinder the implementation of government policies such as the public understanding of science, according to a study.
The study into how the performance of public-sector scientists is assessed has found that management still appears to be focused on scientific peer-group interests.
Other objectives are neglected by the principle performance indicators, despite the government's aims of improving the commercialisation of research output and enhancing public understanding.
In a report that appears in the journal Public Money and Management , Keith Waldron of the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, suggests a more balanced approach to managing research establishments could be developed through a closer relationship with business schools.
Dr Waldron interviewed staff from two universities, two government departments, a research council, a research institute and two food companies with research laboratories.
He identified 28 measures of performance in the opinion of the interviewees, which included publication of peer-reviewed articles and industrial income.
Dr Waldron concludes that the majority of these indicators are of relevance principally to the scientific community and to the government's research councils via peer-group assessment.
He said performance analysis was "unlikely to stimulate balanced management activities of public-sector research organisations".
Dr Waldron said the expertise to tackle the problem could be found in business management schools. "Perhaps now is the time to exploit these with a view to clarifying the roles and responsibilities of scientists at all levels in relation to organisational management and strategic intent."