Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2010/11: Research councils facing new science and technology

Frank van der Most () and Barend van der Meulen ()
Additional contact information
Frank van der Most: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: PO Box 117, Sölvegatan 16, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Barend van der Meulen: Dept. for Science Systems Assessment, Rathenau Institute, Postal: P.O Box 95366, 2509 CJ,The Hague, Netherlands

Abstract: This paper addresses the question how research councils respond to emerging fields of science. Taking nanotechnology as its case, we compare the cases of responses of research councils in Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland during the period 1990 - 2008. The case studies are based on extensive document study and 25 in depth interviews with relevant actors. The analysis is framed by Resource ependence Theory, which is found to overlook aspects related to long term changes and interactions between organizations and their environment. But when this dimension is added, it provides an explanation for the observed conservative response of research councils: research councils are constrained by a web of resource dependencies as it slowly develops over time and gets embedded in national research landscapes, in part as a result of research councils' own actions. We identify a four stage pattern which describes their conservative response.

Keywords: research councils; research funding; emerging science and technology; interdisciplinary research; resource dependence theory; nanotechnology

JEL-codes: O30

18 pages, November 3, 2010

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