The polyphony of public funding instruments in science and innovation policy
Law, criminology & political science :: Political science, public administration & international relations [E08]
Droit, criminologie & sciences politiques :: Sciences politiques, administration publique & relations internationales [E08]
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AbstractDuring the last decennia, the Walloon region in Belgium has launched new instruments to strategically fund university research. A new program called "Poles of Competitiveness" supports collaborative research between industry and universities (Fallon & Delvenne 2010). Public funds support public-private partnerships between firms and universities. These new instruments interfere with established forms of distributed governance: industry partners are called upon to take the lead in the strategic management of large research programs and universities entered rapidly the game, while the regional administration are put on the side. Based on field research (Fallon 2011), the paper will discuss the impact of this transformation on the spaces of interactions between the actors of the STI regime: university, researchers, public administration, industry and stakeholders (Lepori 2011), all struggling for the definition of settings of participation and of administrative and political control (Buisson-Fenet 2008). We put in the fore historic and recent transformations of these socio-political spaces, to apprehend the complexity of institutions, norms, discourses and networks of the different stakeholders and to analyse how they adapted to the new set of policy instruments. In reference to the new avenue for public policy analysis of the "instruments in action" (Lascoumes & Le Galès 2007), we consider instrument as socio-technical device, carrying a concrete concept of the politics/society relationship, as well as meanings and representations. The choice of an instrument itself is a dynamic translation process (Callon 1986) and the use of methodological approaches derived from ANT help unveil the dynamics of institutional innovation and organisational learning: the researcher observes how actors mobilise objects and are being constrained by them, giving shape to internal procedures of categorisation and hierarchisation, with identification processes contributing to the definition of institutional boundaries (Douglas, 1986). The fieldwork thoroughly deconstructed emerging policy instruments and put them in perspective with the other policy support schemes used by the same researchers. The analysis of the transformation / emergence of instruments contributes to illuminate the diversity of networks, in terms of forms of cooperation, heterogeneity, power relations, time perspectives and representations. This instrumental polyphony can be considered as an asset, particularly for those researchers capable of strategically using them (Shinn & Lamy 2006). An instrument is dynamic, undergoing continuous transformation to adapt to contingency (Rayner 1986). Eg. the research council FNRS was settled in 1927 as a structure of collegiality and it consistently refused to become a part of a formal administration with its specific hierarchy. Recent transformations show confrontation of the logic of mutuality with a logic of global marketisation. In order to enrich the theoretical discussions, we propose to confront the propositions derived from the culturalist approach of coordination schemes (the grid/group cultural theory by Douglas (1986) and mobilised by Hood (1998) distinguishes four basic organizational types: hierarchic, fatalist, egalitarian and individualist; each of them favouring a specific mode of cooperation and control : random /mutuality /hierarchy / market) with the lessons we could learn by using the conceptual framework proposed by Lepori (2011). In their review of the "institutional dynamics of culture", 6 & Mars (2008) showed how the work of Douglas (1986) permeated most disciplines of social sciences: considering the four basic institutional forms of Douglas (1986), researchers further analysed how "anomalies" (anomalies under the system of classification that operate in a given institutional setting) are signs of on going hybridisation and social change (Thompson 1996) grounded on endogenous institutional dynamics. Made visible through a fieldwork mapping emerging hybrid forms, conflicts between the institutional forms are to be analysed as drivers of change. This is also central in the work launched by Hood on the "Art of the State" (1998) when considering the limited forms of institutional coordination to be found in public administrations and in the analysis of policy instruments.
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