U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Managing Science in Research Labs, Part II: Managing Organizational Behavior

Sponsoring University:

University of Tennessee Knoxville


Managing Science in Research Labs, Part II: Managing Organizational Behavior


William Barletta, USPAS/MIT and Barbara Thibadeau, Oak Ridge National Lab

[This course may be taken as a one-week stand alone course or may be taken along with the "Managing Science in Research Labs, Part I: Strategic Management" course being offered January 27-31]

Purpose and Audience
Accelerator science and technology is, for the most part, a team enterprise whether conducted in a large (inter)national laboratory, a major research university, or an industrial setting. The successful research manager requires a broad set of technical, organizational, and interpersonal skills to maximize the scientific effectiveness and output of his/her team. The best leaders apply these skills in a context of high standards of scientific ethics and regard for safety and the environment. This course is designed to develop an understanding of organizational behavior and operational management skills for principal investigators and first line managers through upper-middle managers.


At least three years of graduate training in physical, chemical or biosciences. Some supervisory experience in a research laboratory setting (either government, industry or university) is preferred.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

To understand the basic aspects of organizational behavior and operations management of team science in the research laboratory setting. Gain experience with organizational skills such as performance management, organizational structures, risk management and interpersonal influence and leadership.

Instructional Method
Lectures will be given in the mornings. The afternoons will be devoted to “learning by doing” and interactive practice sessions in each of the organizational skills covered. Homework assignments will be given in preparation for the interactive sessions.

Course Content
The lectures will start with a brief description of organizational models followed by discussions of the general measures of the scientific manager. Topics will include (a) research ethics (b) managing within the law (c) performance management including salary management (d) managing operational risks, including safety and the environment, e) organizational structures and governance. Lectures on human resources will cover: (a) conflict management (a) choosing your team, (b) interviewing basics (c) evaluating performance (d) and succession planning.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) "The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage" by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, Harvard Business School Press (2008) and lecture notes to be provided by the instructors.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance: final exam (30% of final grade), homework assignments (35% of final grade) and in-class assignments (35% of final grade).

IU/USPAS course: Physics 671