Institutional set up and the three levels of interaction

I dokument Funding Matters: A Study of Internationalization Programs in Science, Technology and Innovation Nascimento, Ana (sidor 156-159)

The participants in the Sino-Swedish program

Chapter 6 Sweden and the Research Funding System

6.3 The national context

6.3.3 Institutional set up and the three levels of interaction

Motivations to design, manage and actively engage in science, technology and innovation initiatives are intrinsically connected to the modes of STI governance and the way institutions are set up. Institutions and actors depend on each other. Thus, factors compelling different group actors to act cannot be seen as an isolated phenomenon but as part of a larger institutional set up.

Organizations are made up of individuals and change is inherently present all the time in them; therefore, individuals shape the organization and the organization shapes individuals (Liebhart and Lorenzo, 2010; Hosking and Morely, 1992).

The organization of research funding in Sweden is an example where research cooperation programs encourage collaboration and competition among researchers and across sectors. The reason is that scholars across research

organizations in Sweden are deeply dependent on external funding for the survival and sustainability of their research projects. Therefore, one might conclude that a strong driver of research collaboration is research funding. The system is based on the premise that researchers are independent and competitive actors; therefore, it treats dichotomies such as collaboration and competition as inheritably natural. From this perspective, securing funding is one of the several tasks researchers perform. Thus, from an institutionalist perspective, the motivation for participating in research cooperation programs is not irrespective of the contextual setting but it is dependent on it.

In addition, actors’ motivations for engaging in publicly-funded research collaboration programs are molded by institutions’ trajectories. However, actors also have the opportunity to change these institutional trajectories and not merely follow them. From the point of view of funders, they might change established trajectories by shaping decisions concerning research funding allocation and prioritization of research. Or they can influence trajectories by launching new policy instruments. In this case, they become agents of policy experimentation and not merely observers in the policy process. From the point of view of grant recipients such as university researchers, they might change stable trajectories by selecting not to participate in government-funded research programs.

Nevertheless, this section examines how actors act in relation to institutions trajectories. One such trajectory refers to Sweden’s international industrial policy which has followed a certain direction for several decades. At the same time that organizations seem undisturbed during periods of stability, new ideas emerge and are implemented and new programs are created, not clashing with stability but complementing it. Innovation collaboration programs are a new mechanism available for the realization of industrial policy goals utilizing the same institutional set up for the consolidation of industrial policies. This means that the organizational structure remains stable. However, as new concepts emerge, individuals in institutions adapt to external changes and policies get renewed. Industrial policies tend to be top down and linear in their conceptualization and implementation. Sector, research area and region are central in industrial policy. This top down approach conflicts with scientists’

approach to science, technology and innovation. In general, scientists are motivated by research interests, funding opportunities or international recognition and do not rely on the government to carry on with their projects and are not under government control.

The three government-sponsored research cooperation initiatives illustrate how the first two levels of policy-making process interact with each other and with the micro level. Figure 4 below illustrates the policy path and how policy directives and resolutions move across the different levels of interaction within the political system in the context of Sweden. The top level is the macro level, where broader policies are conceptualized and articulated and policy directives are prepared. Policy directives articulate, in an interdependent manner with the meso level which is represented by funding agencies, the locus of policy design and operationalization. Finally, the micro level is represented by the actors that carry out research and technology development.

More specifically, the macro level focuses on the Swedish Government’s motivations to design, deploy resources and promote research collaboration initiatives that have specific and specific goals that are strategic and non-strategic in nature. Governments promote cross-border innovation cooperation in spite of risks of failure and the uncertain outcomes of these programs.

Uncertainty is defined as the “inability to accurately predict an event” (Sabatier and Weible, 2014).

The macro level focuses on policy instruments such as internationalization activities that encompass international research cooperation. Governments are continually reinventing themselves and creating new ways to enhance research and innovation at home or to forge cross-border linkages. The government, through funding agencies is the facilitator of international relations. The micro level focuses on the performing actors in science, technology and innovation.

These include researchers across research institutes and universities, project leaders, CEOs and managers across Swedish firms. The micro level concerns how these individuals view and respond to internationalization and their motivations for engaging in government-supported research cooperation projects.

Figure 4 (below) illustrates the interactions between the levels of the institutional set up (articulation, interpretation and translation), the path of decision making and actors’ roles.

Figure 4 The path of decision making, actors’ roles and interactions according to the institutional set up (Source: the author)

I dokument Funding Matters: A Study of Internationalization Programs in Science, Technology and Innovation Nascimento, Ana (sidor 156-159)