I recently came across a very interesting article on how scientists handle working in a CRI. It's by Lesley Hunt and was published in Kotuitui in 2009. It puts in context (for me at least) why the culture and the tearoom discussion is as it is in my workplace (NIWA Wellington). The basic idea is that scientists resist the CRI corporate ethos and play various mind games to help them cope. Typical results include a high level of cynicism, a distrust of management, and an "us vs them" attitude. It doesn't offer any easy solutions, but it paints a compelling picture of how we tend to operate as individuals in the CRI workplace. The findings of this work suggest that while the CRI Taskforce made some progress, there are more fundamental issues that still need to be dealt with, if New Zealand is going to get the most out of the science workforce (the CRI sector, at least). The article certainly resonated with me, and is definitely worth a read.
As I read the article, I was reminded of an editorial published in The Economist in 2002 (and still accessible, for free, at http://www.economist.com/node/922579), which talks about the point of doing science, and how financial returns and short-term accountability are not the full story. How a creative endeavour like scientific research is best "managed" is something we have yet to fully understand.