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Where is Horizon 2020 leading us?

Mitchell Young

As the year 2014 gets underway, the Europe of Knowledge also begins a new phase with the launch of Horizon 2020. Now that the budget wrangling is over and the calls for the first grant proposals have been published, we will finally begin to discover what Horizon 2020 does to reshape the research environment in Europe. While we do have clear statements (Commission 2011c) about its bringing together the instruments for research and innovation funding under a single umbrella which covers the complete innovation cycle; simplifying and unifying many of the administrative rules and procedures; and seeking to promote the competiveness of the EU with a strong linguistic flavoring from the Innovation Union discourse; still, there are far more questions than answers.

From Framework Programmes to Horizon 2020: ‘A Break from the Past’?

The first question has to be whether it is deserving of its unique name?  Rather than continue with the sequential numbering of framework programmes that has been in place for the past 30 years and which provided continuity for what became a deeply institutionalized EU policy instrument (see Banchoff 2002 for an interesting discussion of how the power of this instrument may have harmed other efforts at common research policy and initiatives), the eighth framework program provides in the commission’s words, ‘a break from the past.’ But what kind of a break does it mark? And why do we need this break at all when the framework programme is generally considered to be one of the ongoing successes of European policy? Banchoff’s argument might suggest that the framework programs as an institution had grown too powerful, but weakening the institution does not appear to be the aim of changing the name, rather, the hope is to strengthen it further. 

Horizon 2020 includes more tools and covers a broader set of policy problems than before, but there is still significant continuity. In a recent conference paper (Young 2013), I argued that the fundamental change is one of policy narrative. I compared the policy documents, proposals, impact assessments and green paper process to see how different types of policy narrative were used in Horizon 2020 in comparison with the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). My conclusion was that Horizon 2020 marks a shift toward a New Public Management (NPM) narrative for structuring research policy. NPM involves making public administration more business-like by adopting private sector management practices within a competitive market context with the aims of increasing performance, efficiency and outputs (Hood 1991, Barlezay 2001, Power 2005, Pollitt and Bouckaert 2011). While there is a complex layering process at work in Horizon 2020 which still includes elements of other public administration narratives, the balance has moved towards quantitatively measureable outputs and the efficiency of excellence rather than inputs or processes as a means of judging success and steering performance. 

In a very basic sense, we can say that FP7 was developed in the optimistic climate of post-millennial globalization, whereas Horizon 2020 was developed in the climate of economic crisis. This shift is visible in looking at how the Commission frames the challenges which the EU faces in its Impact Analyses for FP7 and Horizon 2020. In 2005, the Commission produced this broad statement to contextualize FP7: ‘Our time is one of high uncertainty. It is rich with threats and challenges as well as opportunities. The bipolar world  has come  and  gone and with increasing globalization new trends are emerging: the supremacy of the United States, the rise or awakening of Asian giants, but also the persistence of underdevelopment and the growing inequalities between – and within – the nations of the world’ (Commission 2005, annex p.1). The document goes on to say that Europe is not adapting well to these external challenges. By 2011, the tenor has changed, and the Commission writes: ‘The key challenge is to stabilise the financial and economic system in the short term while also taking measures to create the economic opportunities of tomorrow’ (Commission 2011, p.2). The financial crisis steers policy in a more inward-looking direction and narrows the language of opportunities to focus on economically oriented ones.

More spending on research and innovation?

The headline objective at the time of FP7 was increasing spending on research and innovation, the so called Barcelona target of spending three percent of GDP in this area, which became one of the five key indicators for the Lisbon Strategy. Relatively little progress has been made towards this target, though it continues to feature as one of headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. We might therefore anticipate that Horizon 2020 would attempt to influence and promote national spending. Instead, direct references to input based spending targets are downplayed in Horizon 2020. Austerity arguments coupled with ideas of increasing efficiency in order to compensate for fewer funds predominate. The lack of input-side increases in the member states is also playing out on the European level, where stabilization is considered success. 

While Horizon 2020 is generously funded, and does represent a significant increase in overall funding in comparison with FP7, that increase is still not enough to stabilize the funding level from the final year of FP7. The first two years of Horizon 2020 together have 15 billion, whereas FP7 had nearly 11 billion in 2013 not including the funding for the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which is now part of Horizon 2020. It is worth asking why a more aggressive approach was not taken? What does this tell us about the politicians trust in the rhetoric of research and innovation being the drivers of competitiveness? In other words, why was austerity chosen as the preferred solution to the Euro crisis?

Regardless of whether there are overall increases or not, European research policy provides only a very small amount (about 10%) (Commission 2011a) of the overall funding for research and innovation compared to national sources, but its policy objectives are targeted at affecting the entire European research environment. For that it needs leverage, which can take many forms, including co-ordination, co-option, being given control over parts of what was previously a national competence, and also modeling so-called ‘good practices’ and policy ideas. Some of the ways this is happening are described below. At the same time, the level of competition for European funds is increasing. If the commission’s expectations are correct, success rates in Horizon 2020 will drop to 15% from the 22% success rate of FP7. Competition is seen as a way to increase quality, but is there a point at which too much of it becomes counterproductive?

EU research policy – a blueprint for member states?

In his recent blog post on research policy in Austria, Thomas König describes how Horizon 2020 was used by the Austrian government in legitimizing changes in their research policy, particularly in bringing it under the purview of the ministry for economic affairs. Austria is not the first country to do this; it follows the UK and Spain, and likely others will follow in placing research under the jurisdiction of economic policy rather than with higher education. But the consequences of these structural changes may create dramatic changes in terms of how research is conducted. While the EU has pragmatic reasons for depicting research as an economic activity as this is what gives it grounds to act in what otherwise might be a national activity, its strong propagation of the economic justification for research can now be seen at work in national policymaking as a blueprint for policy and governmental design. Of course there are also many other actors which promote this position, but as we can see, the EU plays an important role.

Another major area of leverage is the growing trend for countries to piggyback on the European Research Council (ERC) evaluation process. There are now reportedly 12 member states that provide national funding to researchers who reach the second stage of the ERC funding process but whose projects are not retained for funding (European Research Council 2013). This encourages researchers to apply for ERC funding, which is time consuming and has a low success rate. It also demonstrates national confidence in the European system of evaluation and maybe a willingness to relinquish more control over research to the EU. There is a clear desire in seeing more such initiatives; one of the targets for Horizon 2020 named in the Commission’s proposal is ‘Number of institutional policy and national/regional policy measures inspired by ERC funding’ (Commission 2011c, p.96). Further details are not provided, but this is something to watch.

Growing divide in European research

The public consultation for Horizon 2020 which was conducted in 2011 (Commission 2011a), shows broad support for the EU’s initiatives and ideas on how to update the Seventh Framework Programme. While there are some critical contributions, for the most part, there are supportive statements from those nearly 2000 governments, universities, organizations, corporations and individuals that participated. However, we should note that levels of participation in the green paper process followed closely both the levels of national investment in research and development as well as scores on the 2013 Innovation Union Scoreboard. This is indicative of the growing divide in European research: the leading research countries are separating quickly from the rest, introducing the danger of a European geography where serious research only happens in select pockets.

The EU is quite aware of this, and the so called ‘widening debate’ for research is on the agenda. How to best address this issue is less clear. In the earlier framework projects, having partners in the EU-10 countries (new member states which join in 2004) was legislated into the program, and brought about quite a bit of well-deserved criticism. In Horizon 2020 excellence-only evaluation became nearly taken-for-granted and was employed in debates as something of a code word for not engaging distributive justice issues. The commission tried to move these issues, which it referred to as the ‘stairway to excellence’, off to the cohesion and structural funds and out of Horizon 2020.

In the end, the widening debate does have a small presence in Horizon 2020 with a section devoted to reducing the innovation divide in Europe (e.g. Teaming initiative). It is not, however, incorporated into any of the other instruments; is a standalone area which will be used to fund partnerships between research leaders and participants in countries which fall below 70% of EU average on the “Composite indicator of Research Excellence” (Horizon 2020 Work Program 2014-2015). This is a new measure that is based on four variables which purports to define research excellence. This quantification of excellence is yet another sign of the encroachment of a New Public Management narrative.

Chasing horizons

What this means for researchers remains to be seen. Pointing out the influence of neo-liberal thinking in Horizon 2020 allows us to consider how it is likely to steer outcomes. In many countries a similar shift has already taken place, so the EU is not breaking new ground, but by grounding its narrative in these ideas, the EU does strengthen the foundation for further changes. Will these changes make Europe the world leader in research as hoped? Are the indicators and benchmarks up to that task? Is a more concentrated system of research universities, like that found in the US, the way to achieve this? Which countries will be most effective in obtaining funds, and which researchers will get them? Will the new rules and conditions lead their projects be groundbreaking and risky or more conservative?

What kind of pursuit is Horizon 2020? I am reminded of this short poem by Stephen Crane:

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;

Round and round they sped.

I was disturbed at this;  

I accosted the man.

“It is futile,” I said,

“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,  

And ran on.

Chasing horizons in hopes of catching them is likely futile, but we may still find great value in the process of seeking to get there.

 

Mitchell Young works at Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic) in the Department of West European Studies where he is conducting his doctoral research on the implementation of research policy and issues related to European Higher Education and Research Area. 

This article was originally posted on the Europe of Knowledge blog.

References:

  • Banchoff, T. (2002) ‘Institutions, Inertia and the European Union Research Policy‘, Journal of Common Market Studies, 40/1:1-21.
  • Barzelay, M. (2001) The New Public Management: Improving Research and Policy Dialogue Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Commission of the European Communities (2005) Commission Staff Working Paper, Impact Assessment And Ex Ante Evaluation, SEC(2005) 430, Brussels.
  • Commission of the European Communities (2011a) Green Paper on a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding: Analysis of public consultation, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union
  • Commission of the European Communities (2011b) Commission Staff Working Paper, Impact Assessment  Accompanying the Communication from the Commission ‘Horizon 2020 –  The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation,’ SEC(2011) 1427, Brussels.
  • Commission of the European Communities (2011c) Proposal for a Regulation of The European Parliament and of The Council establishing Horizon 2020 – The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020),COM(2011) 809, Brussels.
  • European Research Council (2013) Ideas 2 (June), Brussels: European Research Council.
  • Hood, C. (1991) ‘A Public Management for All Seasons?’, Public Administration, 69/1: 3-19.
  • Horizon 2020 Work Program 2014-2015. Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation.
  • Pollitt, C. and Bouckaert, G. (2011) Public Management Reform, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Power, M. (2005) ‘The Theory of the Audit Explosion’. In: Ferlie, E., Lynn, L, and Pollitt, C., (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Public Management, pp.326-44. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Young, M. (2013) ‘Shifting Policy Discourses in FP 7 and Horizon 2020’, paper presented at the panel “Constructing the European Research Area in Times of Crisis”, 7th ECPR General Conference, Bordeaux, 4-7 September.
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Reminder – submit your papers for the ERA-CRN’s panels at ECPR (3-6 Sept 2014)!

DEADLINE 19 JANUARY 2014!

The year 2014 is significant for the Europe of Knowledge, marking the long-anticipated delivery and renewal of Europe’s ambition to become the global knowledge leader. Indeed, it is the deadline set for completing the European Research Area (ERA), as well as the official start of Horizon 2020, the main European Union (EU) funding instrument for pure and applied research. Against this backdrop, the third Europe of Knowledge section invites contributions to go beyond the ‘crisis mode’ that has occupied EU studies in recent years and to critically reflect on the evolution of European knowledge cooperation and governance. Specifically, we are interested in theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I’s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the construction of the Europe of Knowledge. By ‘role’, we refer to the effects that an idea, an actor (individual or organisational), a policy instrument and an institution have on the ‘knowledge area building’ exercise. Our focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across the different knowledge policy domains (i.e. research and higher education). From a research design perspective, this entails conceptualising the ‘four I’s’ as either independent or intervening variables. Individual panels are encouraged to have a mix of papers reflecting the three thematic sectors of this section: higher education, research and science. This section continues to welcome all scholars, theoretical and methodological approaches (e.g. political science, European and EU studies, higher education studies, science and technology studies, international relations and public policy), to critically discuss the reconfiguration of European knowledge systems.

The following panels are issuing calls for papers, please send the following information to the designated contacts before 19 January 2014:

–       Full name

–       University/Institution

–       Postal Address

–       Email Address

–       The name of any co-authors

–       The title of the paper

–       Keyword(s)

–       Research discipline

–       A 250-word abstract

The ‘big’ ideas in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU, Singapore)

As Europe enters another phase in its knowledge cooperation with the launch of Horizon 2020, this panel takes a reflective approach and focuses on the role of ideas in these developments. Ideas are pervasive in all aspects of public policymaking at both the national and European levels. They act as deeply entrenched paradigmatic beliefs concerning how things should and ought to be done, as well as specific policy blueprints for resolving particular policy problems. Articulated through discourse, ideas, championed by ‘amplifiers’, may chart the pathways of integration in unexpected ways. This panel invites contributions that explore the role that ideas play in European research and higher education policy cooperation. By ‘role’, we refer to the independent or intervening effects that an idea – such as the ‘fifth freedom’, competitiveness, excellence, talent, internationalisation, ‘digital revolution’, ‘Single Market of Knowledge’ and so on – have had on constructing the Europe of Knowledge. Papers in this panel are invited to address any of these questions: What are the prominent ideas in the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area and how have they determined the evolution of the Europe of Knowledge? Are there visible European and national champions of certain ideas and what strategies do they apply to promote them? Also, to what extent have these ideational champions collaborated with one another or do they work in isolation? How have ideas been translated into European and domestic research and higher education policies? Could we identify a consistent discourse or policy frame associated with these ideas? Similarly, could we detect an emergent actor constellation opposing the promoted ideas? And, if so, what are the alternative discourses or policy frames and to what extent have they been successful? To address these questions, we welcome comparative, theoretical and empirical approaches using documentary, survey or interview data.

Send paper abstracts to: Meng-Hsuan Chou (hsuan.chou@cantab.net), deadline 19 January 2014

 

Opening the ‘black-box’ of political actors in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Dragan Mihajlovic (BIGSSS, Germany)

Actors promote ideas and interests, and finally adopt policies in the Europe of Knowledge, but actor constellations shaping and emerging due to the overlapping boundaries of education and research remain very much a ‘black-box’. This panel invites papers to examine the role of politics and actors in the Europe of Knowledge. Potential contributions could address the following: Is there a dominant set of actors who are the driving force in the process of creating the Europe of Knowledge? Who are these actors on an individual or organisational level, what politics do they represent, and how do they reconcile the overlapping boundaries between education and research? Are they moving between the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area? If so, are EU knowledge policies more coherent as a result of these actors’ stable interests? Or are these policies lacking coherence because these actors’ interests are in flux due to struggles in different fields? To what extent do the outcomes reflect these tensions? From another angle, contributions could also investigate: how are party politics, coalitions, political cleavages, social forces, and/or actor networks affecting policy? How do political changes over time within the member states impact EU policy formation? Papers might also take a more methodological approach: Is the world of policy making in the Europe of Knowledge virtually unknowable? How can we reveal these hidden processes? Are there prevailing ideas, interests, instruments and institutions (4Is) that political actors represent or stand for? How can we identify them and make them analytically operational?

Send paper abstracts to: Dragan Mihajlovic (mihajlovic@bigsss.uni-bremen.de), deadline 19 January 2014

Converging modes of governance in the Europe of Knowledge (I): academic-oriented science

Chair/discussant: Dagmar Simon/Tim Flink (WZB, Germany)

Over the last decades, the academic-oriented science system has seen far-reaching changes triggered by other domains of society, in particular the state and business. Science is regarded as a major factor stimulating both economic innovation and for substantiating political decision-making. Researchers increasingly engage in consulting activities and collaborate with the private sector on a regular basis, allowing industry to turn ideas from the laboratory into marketable products. Hardly any policy field in modern welfare-state democracies does not rely on scientific expertise. Facing these changing demands and expectations from its institutional environment, the academic landscape has undergone such immense changes that political science should not blank out. Altogether, one can state that more than ever academic-oriented research seems to stand at the crossroads of either becoming increasingly defined by political and commercial interests or remaining autonomous in its operations, given that core scientific institutions are facing tremendous reorganization, with strategic concepts, governance modes and partnerships changing, and with new actors and actors’ constellations suddenly rising up. While increasing scepticism towards the self-regulatory capacities of science calling for more effective modes of evaluation (including peer reviewing, institutional and systemic evaluations) can be observed, there are also trends of resurrecting the legitimacy of fundamental science, borne by new (and discursive) categories of vertical and horizontal differentiation, e.g. frontier research and excellence. Will academic research, political and commercial interests become increasingly inseparable or will researchers reject or strategically cope with such demands and, thereby, even strengthen their academic and disciplinary identities? To elaborate on the interrelatedness of academic-oriented science vis-à-vis state and business interests, we invite scholars to present theoretical concepts, case studies and comparative research from different fields, such as science and technology studies, policy analysis and science policy studies, evaluation research, administrative science and global/transnational governance studies.

Send paper abstracts to: Tim Flink (tim.flink@wzb.eu), deadline 19 January 2014

Converging modes of governance in the Europe of Knowledge (II): regulatory science

Chair/discussant: Rebecca-Lea Korinek/Holger Straßheim (WZB, Germany)

Regulatory science shows contradictions seemingly pertaining to the transforming of the science-policy nexus in total: the political interest in science to solve collective problems has never been higher, e.g. under the heading of evidence-based policy. However, while political and administrative actors in these areas insist on the scientific basis of regulation, regulatory science has lost credibility. Moreover, the dichotomy between academic-oriented and regulatory science has been contested, calling for more complex concepts of the science-policy-politics-nexus, its governance modes and cultural embeddedness. In discussing regulatory science vis-à-vis the state, business and society, this panel systematically links up to the second panel concerning academic-oriented science.

Send paper abstracts to: Tim Flink (tim.flink@wzb.eu), deadline 19 January 2014

Comparative higher education regionalism

Chair/discussant: Marie-Luce Paris (UCD, Ireland)/Pauline Ravinet (Lille, France)

Higher education is often considered the next frontier in the ‘knowledge economy’ race to attract, train and retain the ‘best-and-brightest’. Throughout the last two decades, we see a multiplication of regional initiatives pre-dating or attempting to replicate the success of the Bologna Process. This panel invites papers to reflect on the uniqueness of the European experience as a part of the wider global phenomenon known as ‘higher education regionalism’.

Send paper abstracts to: Pauline Ravinet (pauline.ravinet-2@univ-lille2.fr), deadline 19 January 2014

Instruments for attracting talent to the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Lucie Cerna (OECD)

Attracting talent – students, researchers, entrepreneurs, professionals and scientists – remains a cornerstone for the Europe of Knowledge and this panel invites papers to examine the adopted instruments for this purpose. Policy instruments in the knowledge domain come in a variety of forms. They may be, inter alia, ‘hard’ (i.e. directives, regulations), ‘soft’ (standards), ‘distributive’ (framework programmes, now Horizon 2020), or even ‘networked’. Put simply, the instruments for consolidating the European Research Area (ERA) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) – the two central pillars making up the Europe of Knowledge – can be considered to be a veritable ‘policy mix’. This panel invites contributions that explore the role of instruments for attracting talent to the Europe of Knowledge. We are interested in papers that identify the explanatory or intervening effect that policy design and implementation have had on knowledge policy integration in Europe. Papers can address developments at the EU-level or the implementation or translation of EU instruments in domestic arenas. We welcome analyses of knowledge policy instruments in these areas: scientific mobility (e.g. knowledge networks; talent migration; scientific visa); funding; qualifications framework and so on. Papers can address any of these questions: How are these instruments developed, by whom, according to what models and with what political aims? What are the effects of policy implementation? To what extent has Europe succeeded in meeting its targets? In order to better assess developments in and outside of Europe, we also welcome a comparative approach: To what extent can we speak of EU/European approaches? Can we find similarities between EU instruments and those that have been adopted elsewhere in the world or in other regions (Asia, Latin America, Africa and so on)?

Send paper abstracts to: Lucie Cerna (lucie.cerna@oecd.org), deadline 19 January 2014

Instruments for research funding in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Mitchell Young (Charles University, Czech Republic)

Research funding instruments play a crucial role in shaping what is researched, where, and by whom. While the vast majority of research funding is controlled by national governments, the EU nevertheless has actively sought to shape the overall environment. This panel is interested in contributions that explore the effects that funding instruments have in constructing the Europe of Knowledge as well as the multi-level interaction between national and European instruments. Policy instruments come in a variety of forms. They may be, inter alia, ‘hard’ (i.e. directives, regulations), ‘soft’ (standards, Europe 2020 objectives), ‘distributive’ (framework programmes, now Horizon 2020), or even ‘networked’. We welcome analyses of any policy instruments that have shaped and are shaping research funding in Europe. This includes the broad distributive frameworks programmes, but also the specific instruments which are found under this umbrella (ERC, Societal Challenges, Marie Curie, EIT) as well as instruments related to mobility, spending levels, industrial competitiveness etc. We are especially interested in papers that identify the explanatory or intervening effect that policy design and implementation have had on knowledge policy integration in Europe, particularly those national instruments that incentivise applications to EU funding programmes. Papers can focus on developments at the EU-level or the implementation or translation of EU instruments in domestic arenas. Papers can address any of these questions: How are the instruments developed, by whom, according to what models and with what political aims? Are the national and EU instruments competing or complementing? Is there evidence to suggest that national or EU instruments are steering European research or higher education governance? Or are the pressures external to the integration process (‘internationalisation’)? What are the effects of policy implementation? To what extent has Europe succeeded in meeting its targets?

Send paper abstracts to: Mitchell Young (young@fsv.cuni.cz), deadline 19 January 2014

Reminder – CfP: 44th UACES Annual Conference in Cork

Dear all,

The UACES collaborative research network on the European Research Area invites you to submit papers to the following two panels (details below). Feel free to get in touch with us should you have any queries.

All the very best wishes,
Hsuan, Mitchell and Diana

----------------

Panel 1 (send abstracts to Mitchell Young: young.mitchell 'at' gmail.com)

Exploring the role of ideas in the Europe of Knowledge: from paradigm to blueprints

Chair/discussant: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU, Singapore) and Mitchell Young (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)

The year 2014 is significant for the Europe of Knowledge, marking the long-anticipated delivery and renewal of Europe’s ambition to become the global knowledge leader. Indeed, it is the deadline set for completing the European Research Area (ERA), as well as the official start of Horizon 2020, the main EU funding instrument for pure and applied research. Against this backdrop this panel invites contributions that explore the role that ideas play in European research and higher education policy cooperation. By ‘role’, we refer to the independent or intervening effects that an idea – such as the ‘fifth freedom’, competitiveness, excellence, talent, internationalisation, ‘digital revolution’, ‘Single Market of Knowledge’ and so on – have had on constructing the Europe of Knowledge. Ideas are pervasive in all aspects of public policymaking at both the national and European levels. They act as deeply entrenched paradigmatic beliefs concerning how things should and ought to be done, as well as specific policy blueprints for resolving particular policy problems. Articulated through discourse, ideas, championed by ‘amplifiers’, may chart the pathways of integration in unexpected ways. How have prominent ideas in the ERA and the European Higher Education Area determined the evolution of the Europe of Knowledge? Are there visible European and national champions of certain ideas and what strategies do they apply to promote them? And how have ideas been translated into European and domestic research and higher education policies? We welcome comparative, theoretical and empirical papers addressing these questions from practitioners and scholars at all career stages.

Panel 2 (send abstracts to Diana Beech: djb96 'at' cam.ac.uk)

Policy instruments in the Europe of Knowledge: design and implementation  

Chair/discussant: Diana Beech (University of Cambridge, UK)

Policy instruments in the knowledge domain come in a variety of forms. They may be, inter alia, ‘hard’ (i.e. directives, regulations), ‘soft’ (standards), ‘distributive’ (framework programmes, now Horizon 2020), or even ‘networked’. Put simply, the instruments for consolidating the European Research Area (ERA) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) – the two central pillars making up the Europe of Knowledge – can be considered to be a veritable ‘policy mix’. This panel invites contributions that explore the role of instruments in the construction of the Europe of Knowledge. We are interested in papers that identify the explanatory or intervening effect that policy design and implementation have had on knowledge policy integration in Europe. Papers can address developments at the EU-level or the implementation or translation of EU instruments in domestic arenas. We welcome analyses of any knowledge policy instruments: scientific mobility (e.g. knowledge networks; talent migration; scientific visa); funding; qualifications framework and so on. Papers can address any of these questions: How are the instruments developed, by whom, according to what models and with what political aims? Are the national and EU instruments competing or complementing? Is there evidence to suggest that national or EU instruments are steering European research or higher education governance? Or are the pressures external to the integration process (‘internationalisation’)? What are the effects of policy implementation? To what extent has Europe succeeded in meeting its targets? Papers adopting a comparative approach are especially encouraged. We welcome contributions from both practitioners and scholars at all career stages.

Interested paper presenters are asked to circulate the following to the above designated panel chairs by 10 January 2014:

-       Full name

-       University/Institution

-       Postal Address

-       Email Address

-       The name of any co-authors

-       The title of the paper

-       Keyword(s)

-       Research discipline

-       A 250-word abstract

Europe of Knowledge 2014: High Expectations and Complex Realities

Inga Ulnicane

 ingablog

Image: “The Large Hadron Collider/ Atlas at CERN. Source: Flickr.com”

The New Year of 2014 in European research policy comes with a couple of high profile events: launch of Horizon 2020 – one of the largest research funding programmes worldwide and envisaged completion of the European Research Area – so far the most comprehensive initiative in transnational knowledge governance. These major events involve a lot of activities at the organisational, national and global levels to facilitate effectiveness of research organisations and funding, to promote mobility and to support collaboration.

The year 2014 also marks a number of interesting anniversaries in the European research integration. It is the 60th anniversary of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research where among other things 25 years ago World Wide Web was invented. Moreover, 30 years ago the first European Framework Programme providing funding for research and development was launched. These events provide an opportunity to reflect on why and how transnational governance in the field of research has evolved and what kind of benefits has it delivered.

 

Context: why does transnational knowledge governance matter?

Research is a unique area of transnational governance because at the micro-level of the scientific community and research practice it has a long-tradition of internationalisation. Already in the Middle Ages learned institutions of the time – universities and monasteries – were linked by religious institutions having a broad pan-European scope (Crawford et al. 1993). Major university cities such as Paris, Bologna, Padua, Oxford and Toledo attracted faculty and students from all over Europe. During early professionalization of science in the 17th and 18th centuries researchers exchanged information in self-organising networks known as “invisible colleges” (Crane 1972; Price & Beaver 1966; Wagner 2008) and co-authored publications (Beaver & Rosen 1978). The late 19th century and the early 20th century witnessed active formation of international science associations (Crawford et al. 1993). Scientific community has developed a worldwide system of journals, associations, conferences, and personal and institutional networks. Some disciplines such as natural sciences have longer and stronger traditions of international interaction than others, e.g. social sciences and humanities. Thus, the scientific community already historically has been more internationally connected than most of the other professions. International links have facilitated scientific discoveries by ensuring circulation of knowledge and bringing together necessary expertise.

In the recent decades international collaboration among scientists have increased as shown for example by the growth of internationally co-authored publications (Adams 2013) due to a number of scientific and other reasons such as increased specialisation in science, growth of interdisciplinary research, need for complex instrumentation, growth of information and communication technologies, globalisation of industry, policies supporting internationalisation and easier travel (Katz & Martin 1997). Recently, focus on the need for research to solve the so-called grand challenges – major socio-economic problems of global scope in areas such as health, environment and energy (Cagnin et al. 2012) – provides an additional push towards international collaboration.

In parallel to trans-national research networks and practices, science is also characterised by diverse national systems and strong national interests. Most of the research funding is allocated nationally. Nedeva (2013) conceptualises relationship between internationalised research community and predominantly national research funding as a “tension between inherently global research fields and largely localised research spaces”. According to her, transnational research governance is emerging as an attempt to alleviate this tension. Important steps in the development of trans-national research governance started in the aftermath of World War II. These include intergovernmental initiatives in developing large-scale research infrastructures, gradual development of EU level research policy and global initiatives such as recent establishment of the Global Research Council.

 

Some milestones in transnational research governance

One of the major intergovernmental international science initiatives started in 1954 with the establishment of CERN, the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established by 12 European countries and strong involvement of the United States (Krige 2006) it has grown to 20 member states, many collaborating countries and some 10 000 scientists from more than 100 countries doing research there. Large-scale scientific infrastructure at CERN has enabled complex experiments such as observation of the Higgs boson in 2012 confirming the theory for which the Nobel prize in physics was awarded in 2013. Unexpectedly, in 1989 a major breakthrough far from the field of particle physics took place at CERN when in order to connect CERN’s internationally mobile staff Tim Berners-Lee invented World Wide Web; it was made freely available and lead to fast growth of the web. During its history CERN has experienced tensions between collaborative needs and national interests of its member states, which are present also in ongoing efforts to build a large scale scientific infrastructure such as the European Spallation Source (Hallonsten 2012).

In the gradual development of EU research policy, the launch of the First Framework Programme in 1984 was one of the major milestones. Initially, the Framework Programme mainly brought together existing initiatives such as the Joint Research Centre budget and the ESPRIT funding program for IT (Peterson & Sharp 1998). Moreover, increased involvement of the European Community in research experienced strong opposition from the major member states such as Germany and the UK. However, during 30 years the Framework Programme (with the Eighth Framework Programme known as Horizon 2020 starting in 2014) have expanded considerably, gained support from diverse stakeholder groups and experienced considerable shift in priorities, e.g. if the First Framework Programme was heavily dominated by funding for energy (50% of the budget) and ICT (25%) then in subsequent programmes funding for aims such as human capital and mobility experienced sharp increase.

The Framework Programme has facilitated cross-border collaborations and developed innovative research funding modes. However, a significant question is whether EU research policy can move beyond narrow focus mainly on EU level funding programmes (Banchoff 2003). The Framework Programmes/Horizon 2020 alone cannot address all the important issues in European research governance; having a more comprehensive mix of policy initiatives is important.

 

Completing the European Research Area in 2014: a realistic target?

The European Research Area initiative launched by the European Commission in 2000 is so far the most comprehensive initiative in developing transnational research governance (Edler et al. 2003; Delanghe et al. 2009). The key priorities for the ERA in which “researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely” are more effective national research systems, optimal transnational co-operation and competition, an open labour market for researchers, gender equality and circulation of scientific knowledge via digital ERA. The aim of ERA is to make European research more efficient, competitive and better able to address major socio-economic problems.

To achieve ERA aims, a number of revised and new funding and “soft” governance instruments are used. Funding instruments include not only new instruments within the Framework Programme (e.g. Networks of Excellence, Joint Technology Initiatives) but also joint research programmes among the member states and opening up of national programmes for international participation (Lepori et al. 2014).

Additionally, the ERA is developed by using “soft modes” of governance, i.e. the so-called Open Method of Coordination OMC which involves setting joint targets, monitoring how they are implemented in national policies and ensuring mutual learning. Such method of coordination is deemed to be appropriate to accommodate diversity of national research policies and heterogeneity of involved institutions; however its efficiency has been questioned (De Ruiter 2010; Kaiser & Prange 2004; McGuinness & O’Carroll 2010). The task of overseeing ERA-related OMC activities has been assigned to the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) consisting of the EU Member States’ representatives. As the ERAC was formerly known as the CREST, Scientific and Technical Research Committee – advisory committee of national representatives established in 1974, an interesting question is if there is continuity of accumulating experience of mutual learning in EU research policy over 40 years.

While there have been considerable efforts to strengthen ERA governance as a partnership between the member states, stakeholders and the Commission, an important leadership function is undertaken by the Commission. For example, the Commission has undertaken the leading role in monitoring the ERA by publishing the first comprehensive ERA progress report in 2013; it remains to be seen if the monitoring exercises will enhance mutual learning and deliberation among the member states and stakeholders or will be seen merely as an additional reporting burden.

An important question remains about the usefulness of legal instruments in achieving the ERA aims. While the legally binding instruments can facilitate specific ERA priorities such as open labour market for researchers, it is less clear how much they can help in achieving “effective national research systems”. In 2013, new proposals (including the manifesto “A Maastricht for Research” by two members of the European Parliament) for legally binding measures to implement ERA were put forward. A possibility to make decisions in 2014 about the need for specific legal measures has been mentioned.

The year 2014 is a deadline for completing the ERA, as set out by a number of EU documents including the Innovation Union flagship. This deadline has been widely criticised by experts and stakeholders either as being set too early or as unnecessary for a very broad long-term agenda of ERA. As stated in the Science Europe Roadmap, ERA “is a long-term project, and to strive for its ‘completion’ would be to lack ambition”. Thus, in 2014 it is important to look beyond predictable headlines of “missed target” on how a comprehensive agenda of ERA can be implemented in a sustainable way.

 

Trends to watch in multi-level knowledge governance in 2014

Globalisation: some interesting ongoing developments at global level include an emerging worldwide network of research universities as well as activities dedicated to research integrity and open access by the Global Research Council – a voluntary cooperation among about 70 national and regional research councils established in 2012. At the times when new players (e.g. emerging economies like BRICS, MINTs[i], Asia) are shifting the balance of power in global science and higher education, it is interesting to observe new patterns of international collaboration and competition and Europe’s changing role and place, e.g. in Global University Rankings.

EU level: 2014 comes with important institutional and leadership changes in EU research governance. DG Research and Innovation is undergoing major reorganisation and will have a new structure. In May a new European Parliament will be elected and the Euroscience is planning to use the momentum to organise debates to raise the profile of science in Europe. The new Commission will come with a new Commissioner for Research and a new Commission’s president. In 2014 the European Research Council has a new president Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. It remains to be seen if new leaders and new EU presidencies – Greece (January-June) and Italy (July-December) – bring new priorities to research policy.

National level: a number of events in 2013 led to questions about how much national governments and society value research. Austerity measures hit science in countries such as Greece and Spain, while new cabinets in Austria and Australia omitted dedicated science minister portfolios. In 2014 one of occasions prompting debates about value and evaluation of research at national level could be the completion of the Research Excellence Framework in the UK.

Stakeholders: in 2013 a number of European stakeholder organisations such as Euroscience, Eurodoc, Voice of the Researchers and others continued to raise their voices on core issues such as research careers, mobility and doctoral training. Further debates can be expected at one of the major biennial stakeholder events this year, i.e. ESOF 2014  Euroscience Open Forum.

Research organizations: last but not least – how universities and research institutes will be affected by and respond to the changes at global, European and national level and how are they going to use their autonomy to participate in and shape them?

These ongoing developments in trans-national and multi-level governance of knowledge lead to a number of scholarly and policy relevant questions, for example: the ERA is presented as a Single Market for research but is the market model relevant for organising research systems (Georghiou 2006) and scientific community (Hagstrom 1965)? What are the underlying ideas and values in the European knowledge governance? How research policy priorities of “excellent science” and “societal challenges” are defined and implemented? How multi-level research governance interacts with governance in related policy areas such as higher education, innovation, environment, regional development and economy?

In 2014, UACES’s ERA CRN will address these and other questions in a number of workshops and publications. We look forward to engaging with other scholars and practitioners interested in the multi-level knowledge governance.

Dr.Inga Ulnicane is a political scientist and European studies scholar specializing in multi-level governance and policy of science, technology, innovation and higher education.

This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.

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[i] “BRICS” stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but “MINTs” stands for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.