In 2020, R&D Management celebrated 50 years of publication. The present study honors that milestone by conducting a retrospective examination of the research conducted in the journal over time and reflects on its rich history to look forward in the R&D management field. Using bibliometric techniques, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the journal’s most prominent topics and themes, as well as its most prolific authors, institutions, and countries. The findings indicate that R&D Management has increased its productivity and reputation as measured by the number of published articles and citations per year and expanded its international reach from the initial European-dominated author base. We complement this analysis by performing an in-depth systematic literature review of the most frequently cited papers – annually and of all time – to disentangle the themes and concepts that prominently shaped the progress of the discipline itself. The results suggest that R&D Management has progressively widened its field of investigation from an intra-organizational perspective (1970–1992) to an inter-organizational view (1992–2006) and then to an extra-organizational outlook (2006–2018). Finally, based on this history and viewing the contributions from 2019 onwards, we identify an emerging set of research trajectories that we expect will pave the way for the future impact of R&D Management and the field at large.
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