Reporting and Decision-Making Policies and Structure
This is Launch Conditioning #2
A common characteristic of large high-tech projects is the distributed nature of the technical and governance committees. In the commercial world this is evident through strategically located research nodes (e.g. many defence prime contractors have their own "skunk works".) Institutional mega-projects frequently assemble executive and technical committees from world-wide nominations, and from a third stakeholder group the funding agencies which pay for, but do not benefit from, the project output.
This coming together of diverse people and interests to achieve a common purpose requires organizational and physical distances to be overcome, and responsibility to be shared. Ideally, all this happens in a spirit of effective communication and coordination, active participation, trust, and common expectations.
Such challenges prove difficult to meet in practice. Fieldwork interviews exposed tensions where operative project managers felt frustrated by a lack of decision or feedback on project shaping proposals. Project staff also reported irritation when committees made pronouncements or aired concerns regarding matters considered outside their remit, especially when related to early stage technology selection. Several interviewees thought their committees were too large to work effectively.
Davies & Hobday write "Different organizational cultures, problems in contractual relations and the need to integrate different domains of knowledge make collaborative projects very difficult to execute.". A recent ASPERA report addressing start-ups of science infrastructures emphasizes the need for clear decision-making processes with one body/person having final say, and reject a 50:50 sharing of decision-making as ineffective.
Lessons learnt from the ASPERA report encourage early formation of a Management Board, supported by a core management group, interlocked to the researchers and administration through a clear (documented) decision-making and reporting hierarchy.
In establishing clear reporting and decision-making, top management can either help or hinder a project. Several authors give some emphasis to the negative effects too much management, citing "interference" and "meddling"., , ,  Procaccino et al. add that removal of a project sponsor has more detrimental effect on success than starting without one. Conversely, fieldwork revealed protracted decisions as the only real complaint of management efficacy, with only the (German) XFEL project identifying the need for total management restructure.
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