The successes of the Green Revolution highlighted the importance of agricultural research for Third World development. The dramatic impact of improved technologies both underscored the contributions of increased agricultural productivity to economic growth and demonstrated the benefits of strengthening developing country research capacities. Indications of the substantial returns being reaped from research investments stimulated significant growth in research related expenditures. As a result, many national research institutions have begun to play a major role in national agricultural development strategies. The paper identifies eight basic administrative activities required for the establishment and maintenance of developing country institutions. A few of the most important decisions characterizing each activity are highlighted and some of the tradeoffs underlying these decisions are reviewed. The analysis hypothesizes why certain national programs have been managed much more successfully than others. More generally, it simply attempts to specify what managerial variables are most important in the institution-building process.