9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Science and Research Policies Building AA, AA.225

National science policies under transition - analysis of recent trends in ten countries

National science policies in several countries have recently become more and more economy- and innovation-driven. Changes in world economy, objectives from OECD and EU (especially Lisbon strategy), aims to secure the international competitiveness of the national economies and global political challenges like climate change and energy supply have all in their part contributed to this development. Despite general trends towards market-orientation individual nation-states have pursued aggressive or passive science policies and defined the importance of science in various ways. While some of them have seen scientific knowledge only as a servant of the economy and therefore similar to technology policy and some others as worthwhile of having value in itself, most of them have regarded it as situating somewhere in between. In this paper we examine science policy in a comparative international perspective by analysing changes in the structures, goals, resources and practices of science policy as well as its links to other policy fields in ten countries: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland and Norway. All these countries have actively developed their science policies in various ways and thus provide good examples of recent trends at Nordic, European and international levels. The main interest is on the changes that have taken place during the 2000s.

Our analysis shows that while indeed there are many similarities in the development of the science policy structures, goals and practices, also interesting differencies can be found between the countries. What has been typical for all of them is the growing significance of science policy in the national policy agenda, which has nonetheless led to various interpretations, practices and instruments depending on the country. Most of the countries attempt to find top-research priorities, utilise the research results more effectively and pay attention to relations between science and society. Some of the disparities are the restructurisations of the science policy administration and university systems, the principals and allocation of research funding, and how key priority areas in science policy are determinated, if at all.