Author:Jennifer Kutzleb (University of California, Davis)
Paper short abstract:
Interviewing staff from an Irish scientific funding agency, I explore how they use formal and informal mechanisms to foster engagement between universities and industry, to define the meaning of “excellent science” in Ireland and to push university researchers to act and think like entrepreneurs.
Paper long abstract:
University-industry research centers are a growing global trend with the goal of bridging the gap between academic knowledge creation and industry commercialization. The university and industry, as social institutions, have different norms, cultures, goals and informal and formal rules, yet States often see their convergence as an opportunity for innovation and economic growth. So how does a State coordinate engagement between these two, often contradictory, institutions? Using in-depth interviews with staff from an Irish scientific funding agency, I explore how this agency foster university and industry collaboration in Ireland. I argue that the agency often leverages its research funding to define the meaning of "excellent science" and to shape and reshape the role university researchers play in knowledge production, pushing them towards acting and thinking of themselves as "entrepreneurs," and at the same time, preserving their status as "disinterested" knowledge producers. Formally, the agency uses the grant application process to push university researchers to think about and talk about their scientific research in terms of its economic impact. To maintain the claim to producing "excellent" and "disinterested" science, the agency uses an "unbiased" international peer review panel to evaluate the quality of the science, university researchers produce. Informally, agency staff engage with university researchers by coaching, guiding, and advising in order to reshape and modify their ambitions and bring them more in line with industries commercial goals. I argue that it is these formal and informal mechanisms that ultimately shapes the kinds of science that emerges in Ireland.
Governing Excellent Science