New study:

Key competencies needed for RI and CF managers

A recent RItrainPlus study shows the most important key competencies and skills needed for successful Research Infrastructure (RI) and Core Facility (CF) managers. 


RItrainPlus is among other things, aiming to develop evidence-based recommendations for key competencies and skills for RI and CF leadership. To identify these skills, a quantitative online survey was conducted among 330 RI and CF members all over Europe, together with 17 qualitative guided interviews with heads and leading managers from eight structurally selected countries (Austria, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom).

The preliminary results of the study are now available, and in summary, it highlights the following key competencies as the most important: communication skills, organisational leadership and staff management, in addition to academic excellence and deeper knowledge of the respective field of science. This is accompanied by the capability to manage and deal with issues supporting the work and needs of others, to “let others shine”, as one interviewee put It. 

The quantitative study identified three specific key competencies:

    • Communication and engagement: How to interact and talk with different stakeholder groups
    • Leadership and staff management: Develop and manage structures for leading teams in a strong and decisive way. 
  • Positioning in the scientific community: How to write and prepare communications for the scientific communities, both in the form of publications as well as grant proposals.

In addition, four core key competencies were derived from the qualitative interviews, which support the quantitative results and complement them with reference to the concrete skills:

  • Academic excellence & broad and deep academic understanding for the field. This includes interdisciplinary concerns, recent developments, and specific tasks.
  • Project management & organisation management. This includes good leadership skills, supporting employees and giving them a high amount of freedom, team building, collaborative work, and modesty.
  • Deeper knowledge about the field of science and research in Europe. This includes political and strategic developments, the variety of different funding schemes, opportunities for cooperation between different organisations, and strategical long-term acting.
  • Communication skills on different levels. This includes internal communication (with all staff members), communication with experts (scientists), and communication with external groups and stakeholders (politics, economy, society, technical partners, funding bodies).

For future work and the development of a curricula, the academic and scientific background of the RIs and CFs need to be considered, in addition to their specific character as data-generating organisations, data-providing organisations, and hybrid organisations. The study was conducted by WP2, which is developing training schemes and policies for future operators and managers of RIs and CFs, in order for them to acquire the necessary skills for pursuing this career path. 

Key competencies needed for RI and CF managers