An investigation into the managerial roles and career paths of gatekeepers and project supervisors in a major R & D facility

Authors


Abstract

This study investigates the role of gatekeepers in the transfer of information within a single R&D location by comparing directly the performance of project groups with and without gatekeepers. The results show that gatekeepers performed a linking role only for projects performing tasks that were ‘locally-oriented’ while ‘universally-oriented’ tasks were most effectively linked to external areas by direct project member communication. Gatekeepers also appear to facilitate external communication by their locally-oriented project colleagues. A follow-up study five years later showed that almost all gatekeeping project leaders had been promoted up the managerial ladder; in contrast, one half of the non-gatekeeping project leaders had ascended the technical ladder. This implies that higher managerial levels demand strong interpersonal as well as technical skills.

Ancillary