of European Research Systems: a multidimensional phenomenon
Dr. Jakob Edler,
Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research,
This paper discusses the complex dynamics as for
the integration of European research systems triggered by the ERA initiative of
the European Commission and speculates about the consequences for governance in
research policy and strategies in Europe.
The paper sets out a political science concept defining integration as "the
creation and maintenance of intense and diversified patterns of interaction
among previously autonomous units." (Wallace). In this understanding
integration is driven or experienced by different actor groups at different
levels, and developments in one level may impinge upon other levels.
For the European research systems this means that we have to take into account
formal decisions in high politics as well as interaction schemes by national
ministerial administrations. Moreover, the cooperation of industrial and public
researchers, of research organisations is not confined to the European Framework
Programme, and many bi- and multilateral schemes at various levels meanwhile
complement the Framework Programme collaborations. In addition, cooperation by
research funding bodies have been largely outside the EU system.
The main argument of the paper is that integration of research systems in Europe
is a multi-dimensional phenomenon characterised by a double dynamic. The paper
shows that integration of European research systems is driven by political,
economic, social dynamics at various levels and takes place (1) within and (2)
outside the formal system of the EU. The paper provides some evidence and
speculations as for this double dynamic:
(1) As for ERA, three features are discussed that potentially act as catalysts
of integration of the European Research system: (a) the New Instruments to
implement the Framework Programme and to boost integration of research actors,
(b) the discursive apparatus set up by the Commission in form of the Open Method
of Coordination to accompany the implementation of ERA via inter-governmental
reflexive activities and (c) the ERA-NET activities as an attempt to accompany
the research integration with an administrative integration.
(2) As for the dynamics outside the formal EU structures, the paper points to an
increasing number of 'bottom-up' trans-border collaborative initiatives between
nationally based research organisations and research funders stimulated directly
or indirectly by ERA, accelerating a process by which the national research
organisations and their institutes grow out of their national boundaries in
their strategic research activities. This happens, e.g., through (a) integrative
joint (transnational) research funding, (b) structural integration (whereby
relevant procedures and ways of organisation of research (funding) as well as
institutional representation are becoming subject of mutual adaptation) and (c)
the likely creation of a European Research Council.
The paper argues that these complex developments are interdependent. There are
strong hints that individual actors and stakeholder groups shift their attitudes
and their reference level of expectation, adjust their definition of interest
and their behaviour according to the new opportunities de-fined at the new –
the European – level. As in this double dynamic the oligopolistic,
inter-national power structures soften and increasingly develop into a more
complex web of governance structures, the role of national policy-makers changes.
How they define their new role will depend on their ability and openness to
actively shape the integration process.