Staffing a Research Expansion to Lead Explosive Growth: The Collateral Damage Question

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In January 2018, with a proven track record in business research and consulting, a well-known Indian organization, Center for Advances in Economics Research (CAER), famous for its competitive recruitment, had ambitious expansion plans. However, within a year, it was bedeviled by internal challenges. The organization, in January 2018, committed to focusing more on research and aimed to increase its research impact. Following this vision, the organization expanded its relatively new flagship research sponsorship program known as M.D.’s Aspire Research Fellowship (ARF). It was an opportunity exclusively for aspiring scientists who aimed to contribute and promote economic development in the country by developing business research capacity and consulting. The inducted scientists needed to contribute to the organization’s research activities and were employed across various specialized centers. The research conducted in the centers would contribute to their ARF dissertations. The organization attracted some of the brightest minds in the country and had a competitive acceptance rate. However, after a year of employment, the organization suddenly terminated many newly inducted trainee scientists on the ground of nonfulfillment of performance requirements. The trainee scientists blamed the organization for irrelevant training, misconduct by a few principal scientists, and administrative misconduct. The organization, on the other side, found the trainee scientists not as per their required standards. The organization’s decision regarding the termination of these trainees has multiple effects: the organization’s reputation was at stake, the slowdown in research productivity growth and expansion plans, the financial loss was substantial, and uncertainties remained about the future of the terminated trainee scientists. The organization’s top executive formed a committee to investigate the issue and come up with the final decision.

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