Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation

Rethinking the Rationales for Funding and Governance

New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series

Edited by Aldo Geuna, Ammon J. Salter and W. Edward Steinmueller

This book re-examines the rationale for public policy, concluding that the prevailing ‘public knowledge’ model is evolving towards a networked or distributed model of knowledge production and use in which public and private institutions play complementary roles. It provides a set of tools and models to assess the impact of the new network model of funding and governance, and argues that governments need to adapt their funding and administrative priorities and procedures to support the emergence and healthy growth of research networks. The book goes on to explain that interdependencies and complementarities in the production and distribution of knowledge require a new and more contextual, flexible and complex approach to government funding, monitoring and assessment.

Chapter 9: On the Workings of Scientific Communities

Robin Cowan and Nicolas Jonard

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy


9. On the workings of scientific communities* Robin Cowan and Nicolas Jonard 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is about the creation and diffusion of knowledge within scientific communities or disciplines. There has long been a distinction between basic and applied research, corresponding roughly to the distinction between science and technology. More recently, a similar distinction has been drawn between open and closed science, drawing attention to different incentive and reward structures within different loci of knowledge creation. Roughly speaking, the open science model corresponds to what we think of traditionally as university or academic research; closed science corresponding to industrial research, or research aimed at profit-making market activities.1 In this chapter we are concerned exclusively with the open science model. We focus on single academic disciplines (economics for example) having several subdisciplines (micro theory, applied micro, econometrics, labour economics, industrial organization, macro-economics and so on). Within a discipline individual scientists interact directly with other scientists in a variety of ways – they collaborate; they read one another’s working papers; they talk in the corridors; they attend one another’s seminars and conference presentations and so on. If these are considered direct interactions, it is clear that all economists do not interact directly with one another. Indeed, any economist will interact directly only with a small number of other economists. Thus we observe a population of individual agents each of whom interacts directly with only a very small number of other agents. We can usefully see this population...

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