Towards European Science

Towards European Science

Dynamics and Policy of an Evolving European Research Space

Edited by Linda Wedlin and Maria Nedeva

Since the concept of the European Research Area was launched at the beginning of this century, significant effort has been made to realise the vision of a coherent space for science and research in Europe. But what is such a space, and how is it developing? This timely book analyses the dynamics of change in policy and governance of science and research within Europe over the past decade. It widens the scope of traditional policy analysis by focusing attention on the interaction between policy rationales, new governance mechanisms, and the organisational dynamics of the scientific field. The contributors build a novel analytical framework to understand the European research space as one shifting from a fragmented space of ‘science in Europe’ to one that is labelled ‘European Science’, and the chapters explore dynamics of this shift through the lenses of political science, organisation theory, science policy and related analytical traditions.

Chapter 8: Academies and their roles in policy decisions

Lars Engwall

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, organisation studies, innovation and technology, organisational innovation, politics and public policy, european politics and policy


Standing on the shoulders of Plato and his school in Academia outside Athens, academies and learned societies (in the following academies) have been created extensively in Europe. The oldest existing one, Accademia dela Crusca, founded in 1582, became the role model for a number of others oriented towards languages, and another one, Die Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (1652), considered the oldest academy of science, has many followers throughout Europe. The European population of academies thus constitutes a network of elite institutions, largely based on the selection of new members by those who already are members. As a result academies and their members live in symbiosis: academies elect distinguished members in order to raise its reputation, and members get reputation by being members. Academies thereby appear to have become important for science policy in general and the selection of experts for science policy decisions in particular. Against this backdrop, the chapter aims at demonstrating the role of academies in policy decisions. For this purpose the chapter will briefly summarize the development of academies over time. This exposition will be followed by an analysis of the characteristics of academies. It will point to the two important roles expressed in mission statements of academies: (1) international collaboration and (2) interaction with society. These roles are played both by individual members and the national academies themselves. However, like many other organizational fields, that of academies has seen the emergence of organizations that organize individual organizations, sometimes labelled meta-organizations. The development of these international organizations will be summarized in a subsequent section, followed by one dealing with the relationship between European academies and society. A final section will present conclusions and discuss their implications for European science policy.

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