Governing European Science: Evaluation, Forecasting and Science Policy in the European Union
(Theme 3: The Evaluation of Collaboration and Networking in European S&T;)

Dr Andrew Barry
Professor Nikolas Rose


Objectives
  • the preparation of a critical account of the structure and functioning of EU programmes in research forecasting, evaluation and strategic analysis

  • a contribution to understanding the role of social scientific forecasting, evaluation, and strategic analysis in the development of European science policy and in the decisions and judgements of policy makers

  • an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to science policy research within the European science-policy making apparatus

  • an analysis of the relation between science policy research in the national context and science policy research in the European context

  • a contribution to current sociological debates on the development of transnational forms of economic and technological regulation

Main Results

The idea of the network has become a key item in both the rhetoric and practice of European policy in general, and European science policy in particular. The study traces the intellectual and political conditions within which the network metaphor has become so pervasive.

The study has revealed important differences and conflicts concerning the meaning and instruments of "networking" in European science and technology policy. The study examines, in particular, the different ways in which the term "network" is employed in the Commission's White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment and the preparatory work from which this White Paper was, in part, derived.

Given the significance of networks to European science policy, approaches to the analysis and evaluation of networks remain underdeveloped.

In the European Commission and the European Parliament, science policy research is fragmented between a number of different approaches and programmes. Some of these do have a close relation to policy, but have a weak relation to contemporary intellectual debates. Others function less as policy researchers than as "militant" or "academic" outsiders.

Links between the various Commission services concerned with science policy are weak. There appears to be poor coordination, for example, between science policy and regulatory policy.

The Commission's approach to programme evaluation has improved in recent years but there are still considerable problems. For example, there is still too much emphasis on peer review in the evaluation process.

Particular individuals and agencies who are able to draw together expertise in science policy, economics or sociology with a knowledge of the policy process have a key role in translating the results of research into policy recommendations in the European Commission.

The UK has a strong reputation for good science policy research and research evaluation amongst academics and professionals. However, this "intellectual" reputation is not reflected in the political profile of UK researchers in the Commission.


Implications for policy and practice

  • the idea of the network is extremely seductive. Policy makers should be aware of different forms that networks can take and the benefits and problems of different kinds of networking. A great deal more research needs to be done on how networks function, and how they might be evaluated.

  • the Fourth Framework Programme does envisage greater coordination between science policy research involving the Commission, the European Parliament and the member states. Although the details of the Commission's proposals have yet to emerge the problems of achieving greater coordination should not be underestimated.

  • there is an important role for specific individuals and institutions in meditating between researchers and the policy making apparatus. Although such individuals need not be actively engaged in research they should possess an appropriate background in the social sciences.


References/Further Reading

A. Barry "The European Community and European government: Harmonisation, mobility and space" Economy and Society 22(3), pp. 314-326, 1993

A. Barry "Harmonisation and the art of European government" in J Davis and C Rootes (eds) The New Europe? Social and Political Transformation, London: UCL Press, 1994


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