Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


The Manchester Institute of Innovation Research will be taking part in the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy from 9-11 October 2017


Monday 9 October


Sergey Kolesnikov (School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Seokkyun Woo (School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Jan Youtie (Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Philip Shapira (School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology; Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)

International University Research Ventures: The Global Emergence and Significance of Trans-Border Academic Research Institutions

SPEAKER:Sergey Kolesnikov

ABSTRACT. Research universities around the world are increasingly establishing long-term institutional research footprints overseas through the creation of research centres, facilities and partnerships outside of their home countries. Examples include research centres opened by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Cambridge, and the Technical University of Munich at the CREATE campus in Singapore; Georgia Tech’s R&D facilities in Metz, France; and the Fudan-Yale Biomedical Research Center in China. We argue that such international university research ventures (IURV) are a distinct kind of formal institutional knowledge-producing arrangements which have emerged recently at the intersection of two trends: expanding international research collaborations (Katz and Martin 1997, Wagner and Leydesdorff 2005) and the globalization of higher education (Altbach and Knight 2007), each responding to the growing complexity of science and institutional pressures from funders and policymakers (Youtie et al. 2006). IURVs vary in form and function, while their scope often includes not only research but also an expanding mix of knowledge exchange and developmental objectives, suggesting growing IURV impact not only on global knowledge production but also on human capital, innovation, economic competitiveness, security, and international development.

Previous studies of institutionalized forms of international research collaboration have focused either on multinational firm R&D (Kuemmerle 1999; Von Zedtwitz and Gassmann 2002), public research institutions (Jonkers and Cruz-Castro 2010), or research activities at international branch campuses (Kinser and Lane 2016; Guimon 2016). With the exception of some notable IURV case studies (Pfotenhauer et al., 2016, Hird and Pfotenhauer 2016), there has been limited comprehensive analysis of IURVs and their roles in global cross-border knowledge flows. To fill this gap in knowledge, we have undertaken an exploratory study of the scale and scope of global IURV activity. Data on IURV locations, years of operation, partnerships, research areas, missions, activities, and organizational forms was collected by mining the websites of participating universities, their partners, and IURVs themselves. Additional information was gained from government reports and news sources.

The study consisted of two phases. The initial effort targeted IURV activities of the 108 top U.S. research universities as defined by the “Carnegie Doctoral/Research Universities – Very High Research Activity” classification, 2010 edition. The second phase surveyed the 40 top non-U.S. research universities based on Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016, plus an additional 40 top non-US and non-European research universities from the same rankings stratified by region to ensure broader regional coverage. The resulting combined and stratified sample includes 111 North American universities, 33 Asian universities (including a Middle Eastern subsample of 8), 24 European, 8 Latin American, 8 African universities, and 4 universities from Oceania (all located in Australia). The full scale of IURV phenomenon in the world is not fully captured by our combined sample: in the process of data collection, we found evidence of at least 120 additional universities that established IURVs. Our study focuses primarily on IURVs created by top global and regional research universities, not all IURVs ever created.

Our results confirm that IURVs are, indeed, a worldwide phenomenon. We found 392 IURVs set up in 84 countries by 99 universities. While many IURVs are located in emerging economies, with China (125 IURVs), India (24) and Singapore (22) as clear leaders, the full geographical distribution is more dispersed: we found IURVs established in some of the most and the least developed and research-active countries in the world. On a regional level, Asia is the biggest receiver of IURVs (264 IURVs – more than two-thirds of the total worldwide amount). It is followed by Africa (48 IURVs), Europe (40), Latin America (27), North America (U.S. and Canada combined, with 9 total), and Oceania (4).

Top European research universities show relatively strong engagement with IURVs, with 87% of the European part of the sample establishing at least one, compared to roughly 50% of North American and Asian peers in the sample. Top IURV-creating institutions are the University of Oxford with 30 IURVs, MIT (24), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (21). Top IURV sending countries (apart from the U.S. which is overrepresented in the combined sample and produced 183 IURVs in total) are the United Kingdom with 8 sampled universities creating 72 IURVs, followed by Hong Kong with 40 IURVs established by 4 universities. Other countries exporting a significant number of IURVs are Japan, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Russia, and Australia.

Regarding cross-regional IURV circulation, North America exports IURVs to Asia (117 IURVs), Africa, Europe (28 each), and Latin America (22). European universities send IURVs to Asia (75 out of the total of 114 IURVs) and Africa (20), with smaller representation in other regions. Asia focuses on within-region IURV collaboration: 67 out of the total of 75 IURVs established by Asian universities are hosted by other Asian countries. Most Australian IURVs are also hosted in Asia. In contrast, universities in Africa and Latin America tend to be on the receiving end of joint research ventures, exporting little to none.

IURVs are a relatively recent phenomenon. While the earliest IURV in the sample has been in operation since 1954, a significant growth in IURV entry started at the turn of the current century and continues to the present, with a peak of 39 new entries in 2012. IURV expansion seems to slow down after this peak, suggesting either an exhaustion of resources or interest for IURV creation from host countries or saturation of organizational capacity of top research universities to manage IURV activities abroad. Nevertheless, most of the recorded IURVs are still currently active; only 22 of them ceased operations or became independent.

Based on the analysis of the geographical distribution of IURVs, their partnerships, activities, and research specialization, we identified three primary motivations behind IURV location decisions made by universities: 1) opportunities for high-quality research; 2) host country policies for capacity building in science and technology; and 3) international development programs. Profit-seeking motivations and path dependency in previous relationships between countries may also play a role in these decisions. The relatively high relevance of the second and the third motivation may explain some of the regional and country-level differences in characteristics of IURVs, reflecting different approaches of the hosting countries to national science and technology priorities and strategy, as well as the role IURVs play in it. In particular, in China a majority of IURVs are created in partnerships with universities, reflecting government efforts to improve the research capacity of domestic universities (Zhang et al. 2013). For Hong Kong, IURVs are a response to institutional pressure to formalize collaborations with mainland China and expand to Chinese market. In Singapore, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia IURVs are part of their strategies in building global education hubs (Knight 2014). Finally, in Pakistan and most of the African countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, IURVs predominantly work in the international development context.

Drawing on the mapping of the global landscape of IURVs and our detailed probing of IURV characteristics, partnerships, objectives, and operational arrangements, the paper concludes by considering the significance of IURVs and potential trajectories and emerging regional locations for future development.

Acknowledgements The research reported here is based upon work supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office through the Department of Defense Minerva Research Initiative under grant #W911-NF-15-1-0322. Additional research assistance in data collection was performed by Yin Li, Jon Schmid, and Olufunke Adebola.

References: Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The internationalization of higher education: Motivations and realities. Journal of studies in international education, 11(3-4), 290-305.; Guimon, J. (2016). Universities as multinational enterprises? The multinational university analyzed through the eclectic paradigm. Multinational Business Review, 24(3), 216–228.; Hird, Mackenzie D., and Sebastian M. Pfotenhauer. (2016) How complex international partnerships shape domestic research clusters: Difference-in-difference network formation and research re-orientation in the MIT Portugal Program. Research Policy. DOI:; Jonkers, K. and L. Cruz-Castro (2010), The Internationalisation of Public Sector Research through International Joint Laboratories, Science and Public Policy, 37 (8), 559–70.; Katz, J.S. and B.R. Martin (1997), What is research collaboration, Research Policy 26(1), 1–18.; Kinser, K., & Lane, J. E. (2016). International Branch Campuses: Evolution of a Phenomenon. International Higher Education, (85), 3-5.;Knight, J. (2014). International education hubs: Collaboration for competitiveness and sustainability. New Directions for Higher Education, 2014(168), 83-96.; Kuemmerle, W. (1999). The drivers of foreign direct investment into research and development: an empirical investigation. Journal of international business studies, 30(1), 1-24. Pfotenhauer, S. M., Wood, D., Roos, D., & Newman, D. (2016). Architecting complex international science, technology and innovation partnerships (CISTIPs): A study of four global MIT collaborations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 104, 38-56.; Wagner, C.S., Leydesdorff, L. (2005). Network structure, self-organization, and the growth of international collaboration in science, Research Policy, 34, 1608–1618.; Von Zedtwitz, M., & Gassmann, O. (2002). Market versus technology drive in R&D internationalization: four different patterns of managing research and development. Research policy, 31(4), 569-588.; Youtie, Jan, Libaers, Dirk, Bozeman, Barry. (2006). Institutionalization of university research centers: the case of the National Cooperative Program in Infertility Research. Technovation, 26(9), 1055-1063. Zhang, H., Patton, D., & Kenney, M. (2013). Building global-class universities: Assessing the impact of the 985 Project. Research Policy, 42(3), 765-775.


Tuesday 10 October

Session 3A: Transformative Research Policy


Erik Arnold (Technopolis and KTH Stockholm, UK, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research Associate)
Katharine Barker (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, UK)

Using past learning in research and innovation policy to inform the development of third-generation system governance: Evidence from Sweden

SPEAKER:Erik Arnold

ABSTRACT. This paper reports ongoing research on the role of evaluation and other factors in policy learning. There is growing consensus that increasing focus in research and innovation policy on the ‘societal challenges’ such as climate change, ageing population and the need for massively increased productivity in the healthcare sector requires significant changes in governance, policy instruments and evaluation styles. Some of these challenges will require deliberate transformations in socio-technical systems that have not been attempted before. While evaluators like to see their own role in the ‘policy cycle’ as key to learning, the literature suggests a much wider range of drivers. We aim to identify significant learning events in Swedish research and innovation policy over the last 30-40 years that have been marked by the innovation of new-to-the country policy instruments and to understand change drivers in each case. Cross-analysis of the cases will then enable us to identify and contextualise the drivers for policy learning and to draw inferences about the sources of learning likely to be helpful in devising and implementing policies to address the societal challenges.


Stefan Kuhlmann (University of Twente, Netherlands)
Jakob Edler (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Ralf Lindner (Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Germany)
Gonzalo Ordonez (University of Twente, Netherlands)
Sally Randles (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Bart Walhout (University of Twente, Netherlands)

Transformative Research and Innovation Policy – Towards a Meta-governance Frame

SPEAKER:Stefan Kuhlmann

ABSTRACT. The paper will develop a meta-governance framework facilitating transformative policy-making, with a particular focus on the meso-level of research and innovation systems (RIS). In our concept “governance” includes all related actors, their resources, interests and power, fora for debate and arenas for negotiation between actors, rules of the game, and policy instruments applied helping to achieve legitimate agreements (Kuhlmann 2001; Benz 2006). “Meta-governance” is about “organising the conditions of governance” (Jessop 2002, 242). Why is this perspective relevant? The contexts and conditions for RIS are changing, placing more, new and multiple kinds of pressures, demands and requirements on science, technology and innovation (STI). These demands can be understood as increased legitimacy pressures on STI actors and RIS (e.g. Schot & Steinmueller 2016; Mulgan 2017). Since about 15 years STI policies have become geared towards addressing objectives reaching beyond an immediate economic focus on growth and competitiveness (Lindner et al. 2016). This "normative turn" is expressed in the strategic reorientation of national and supranational STI policies to address the “Grand Societal Challenges” such as health, demographic change, wellbeing and sustainability (Foray et al. 2012; Kallerud et al. 2013; Kuhlmann & Rip 2014). Well known examples for this ongoing paradigm shift are the European Union's Europe 2020 strategy, the US Strategy for American Innovation or Germany's Hightech Strategy. This is complemented and propelled forward by the recent discourse on “responsibility” in research and innovation. Against this background the paper will address the following questions: • What is needed to establish, ensure or regain legitimacy for STI policy? Can legitimacy be constructed pro-actively (c.f. Suchman 1995)? How and towards which ends do RIS and their meta-governance have to be transformed to achieve this? • Which meta-governance frame (at the meso-level) can help to address the transformations called for, and eventually contribute to establishing legitimacy of STI? The paper does not intend to deliver a “grand concept” to transform RIS, covering all levels and systems dimensions. Rather, the focus is on transformation of organisations and institutions at the meso-level (such as funding organisations; ministries; boards of universities and of companies; civil society organisations). This level is often forgotten, as analysis and prescription either target “the system”, policy or individuals, and if they target the meso-level, it is often very specificly tailored towards a certain category. However, our premise is that while there is a variety of different organisations in RIS, there are core structures and processes influencing responsiveness to external demands across all of them that need to be understood and addressed. Successful changes at the meso-level have a potential to contribute, in a legitimate way, to system-wide transformations. A recent prominent attempt to (re-)establish legitimacy and provide normative orientation for STI policy and RIS is the above mentioned quest for “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)” (e.g. von Schomberg 2013). In essence, “RRI” aims at improving the alignment of the impacts of technology and innovation with societal demands and values as far as possible. The concept is inherently characterised by a high degree of normativity in order to provide necessary guidance as to what constitutes desired or “responsible” research and innovation (Randles et al. 2014; Lindner and Kuhlmann 2016). The prominent position of “RRI” in the European Union's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 and the endorsement of the "Rome Declaration on RRI in Europe" by the European Council in 2014 indicate that “RRI” has been used as a legitimacy resource for policy, research funding and scientific communities. The quest for “RRI” can be interpreted as one of the current responses to the challenges raised by the broader changes and dynamics conditioning and structuring STI. The related “RRI discourse” is an attempt to question, revise and strategically re-stabilise the legitimacy of public investments in STI policies. But such claims to increase the “responsibility” and “responsiveness” in RIS should not be equalled with a meta-governance frame. Therefore, in contrast to attempts to define what “RRI” should mean in substance (e.g. Stilgoe et al. 2013), in our paper we apply a genuine governance perspective. The intended meta-governance framework facilitating transformative, responsive and legitimate policy-making in RIS will have to cope with two basic challenges: • “Responsibility” has always been subject to changing value choices (Arnaldi & Gorgoni 2017). Also the recent claim for “RRI” is an inherently normative concept. The concrete realization of these normative claims will be contested in the context of pluralistic societies. Instead of downplaying these tensions and potential conflicts, we acknowledge the need to identify conditions and viable mechanisms that facilitate the capacities and capabilities of relevant actors to engage in constructive and productive negotiations. • Any effective governance approach needs to take into account the manifold, multi-layered incumbent governance arrangements in RIS and STI policy, and draw on them constructively. These various, often well-established arrangements and mechanisms, as well as normative priorities of actors, represent what we consider as “RRI in the making” or the de facto governance (Rip 2010) of evolving “divisions of moral labour” (Rip 2017) between actors. Consequently the paper builds on a research approach aiming to learn from “RRI in the making”, understood as a historically unfolding process, co-evolving with understandings of what it means to be responsible in any particular context. Here we are interested in those practices in which the participating actors work towards legitimate normative objectives and outcomes. In order to identify “building blocks” for a meta-governance framework and given the heterogeneity and complexity of present research and innovation governance landscapes, a case study approach was chosen to study “RRI in the making”, aiming to generate deep insights into established arrangements, mechanisms and practices of governance across a range of different research and innovation situations and contexts. Consequently, an explorative rather than a representative approach was applied to select and conduct 26 very diverse empirical cases (Randles et al. 2016). A tailored model was developed to guide the empirical research (Walhout et al. 2016). The case study programme was be complemented by a continuous monitoring process of “RRI” trends and developments in 16 European countries (Mejlgaard & Griessler 2016). The empirical material was analysed in a 3-stage deductive-inductive research process, and we identified 13 transversal lessons for the governance of RRI, along procedural and substantive dimensions (Randles et al. 2016). Against this background we developed in an abductive manner the rationale and ambitions of a meta-governance framework (“Responsibility Navigator”, Kuhlmann et al. 2015). This orientating framework is meant to facilitate responsibility-related debates, strategic reflection and decision-making processes in meso-level RIS organisations. The framework builds on ten principles organised along the three dimensions of (1) Ensuring Quality of Interaction, (2) Positioning and Orchestration, and (3) Developing Supportive Environments. We claim a high degree of robustness of the suggested principles given a strong empirical foundation plus the fine-tuning and testing in an elaborated “co-construction process” with key meso-level stakeholders from RIS in Europe and beyond (Bryndum et al. 2016).

References: Arnaldi, S. & Gorgoni, G. (2016): Turning the tide or surfing the wave? Responsible Research and Innovation, fundamental rights and neoliberal virtues, Life Sciences, Society and Policy 6, DOI: 10.1186/s40504-016-0038-2. Benz, A. (2006): Governance in connected arenas – political science analysis of coordination and control in complex control systems. In Jansen, D. (ed.): New Forms of Governance in Research Organizations. From Disciplinary Theories towards Interfaces and Integration, Heidelberg/New York: Springer, 3-22. Bryndum, N.; Alexander Lang, A.; Mandl, C.; Velsing Nielsen, M.; Bedsted, B. (2016): The Res-AGorA Co-construction Method. In: Lindner, R., Kuhlmann, S., Randles, S., Bedsted, B., Gorgoni, G., Griessler, E., Loconto, A., Mejlgaard, N. (eds.): Navigating Towards Shared Responsibility in Research and Innovation. Approach, Process and Results of the Res-AGorA Project. Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), 46-53 (ISBN: 9-783000-517099; Foray, D.; Mowery, D.C.; Nelson, R.R. (2012): Public R&D and social challenges: What lessons from mission R&D programs? Research Policy 41, 10, 1697-1702, ISSN 0048-7333, Jessop, B. (2002): The Future of the Capitalist State, Ox¬ford. Kallerud, E., et al. (2013): Dimensions of research and innovation policies to address grand and global challenges; Eu-SPRI Forum Position Paper of the project “The emergence of challenge-driven priorities in research and innovation policy (CPRI)” ( Kuhlmann, S. (2001): Governance of Innovation Policy in Europe – Three Scenarios. Research Policy,. 30, 6, 953-976 (DOI: 10.1016/S0048-7333(00)00167-0). Kuhlmann, S., Rip, A. (2014): The challenge of addressing Grand Challenges. A think piece on how innovation can be driven towards the “Grand Challenges” as defined under the European Union Framework Programme Horizon 2020, Report to ERIAB; DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4757.184 Kuhlmann, S., Edler, J., Ordóñez-Matamoros, G., Randles, S., Walhout, B., Gough, C., Lindner, R. (2015): Responsibility Navigator, Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), Published also in: Lindner, R. et al. (eds.): Navigating Towards Shared Responsibility in Research and Innovation. Approach, Process and Results of the Res-AGorA Project. Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), 132-155 (ISBN: 9-783000-517099; Lindner, R. et al. (2016): Addressing directionality: Orientation failure and the systems of innovation heuristic. Towards reflexive governance. Karlsruhe (Fraunhofer ISI Discussion Papers Innovation Systems and Policy Analysis No. 52) ISSN 1612-1430. Lindner, R.; Kuhlmann, S. (2016): Responsible Research and Innovation und die Governance von Forschung & Innovation: Herausforderungen und Prinzipien. In: Forschung: Politik - Strategie – Management, Fo 1/2016, 9. Jg., S. 22-27. Mejlgaard, N.; Griessler, E. (2016). Monitoring RRI in Europe: approach and key observations. In: Lindner, R. et al. (eds.): Navigating Towards Shared Responsibility in Research and Innovation. Approach, Process and Results of the Res-AGorA Project. Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), 114-118 (ISBN: 9-783000-517099; Mulgan, G. (2017): Thesis, antithesis and synthesis: A constructive direction for politics and policy after Brexit and Trump. NESTA Blog, Randles, S./Dorbeck-Jung, B./Lindner, R./Rip, A. (2014): Report of the Roundtable at S.NET Boston 2013: ‚Where to Next for Responsible Innovation’?, In: Coenen, C.; Dijkstra, A.; Fautz, C.; Guivant, J.; Konrad, K.; Milburn, C.; van Lente, H. (eds.): Innovation and Responsibility: Engaging with New and Emerging Technologies, Berlin, 19-38. Randles, S.; Edler, J.; Gee, S.; Gough, C. (2016): Res-AGorA case studies: drawing transversal lessons. Lindner, R. et al. (eds.): Navigating Towards Shared Responsibility in Research and Innovation. Approach, Process and Results of the Res-AGorA Project. Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), 64-72 (ISBN: 9-783000-517099; Rip, A. (2017): Division of Moral Labour as an Element in the Governance of Emerging Technologies. In: Bowman, D.M.; Stokes, E.; Rip, A. (eds): Embedding New Technologies into Society, 113-127. Schot, J., Steinmueller, W.E. (2016): Framing Innovation Policy for Transformative Change: Innovation Policy 3.0. Brighton (SPRU working paper series). Stilgoe, J.; Owen, R.; Macnaghten, P. (2013): Developing a framework for responsible innovation, Research Policy, 42, 9, 1568-1580, ISSN 0048-7333, Suchman, M. C. (1995): Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of management review, 20(3), 571-610. Von Schomberg, Rene ( 2013): A vision of responsible innovation. In: R. Owen, M. Heintz and J. Bessant (eds.) Responsible Innovation. London: John Wiley. Walhout, B., Kuhlmann, S., Ordonez-Matamoros, G., Edler, J. (2016): Res-AGorA concepts and approach. In: Lindner, R. et al. (eds.): Navigating Towards Shared Responsibility in Research and Innovation. Approach, Process and Results of the Res-AGorA Project. Karlsruhe/Germany (Fraunhofer ISI), 46-53 (ISBN: 9-783000-517099;


Session 3C: Beyond Established Impact Assessment


Jakob Edler (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)
Kate Barker (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)
Maria Karaulova (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)

Better understanding impact of scientific knowledge on policy by conceptualising policy making conditions

SPEAKER:Jakob Edler

ABSTRACT. This paper develops a conceptual framework to understand the impact of scientific knowledge on the policy making process. It does so by analysing the institutional conditions in the policy-making systems itself which – we argue – co-determine research agendas, patterns of co-production of knowledge, demand for and use of scientific knowledge, and thus its impact. The framework therefore fills a gap in the vast existing literature on science impact on policy which has focused more on the science system itself, the perspective of scientists or the science – policy interaction. The basic motivation for the paper emerges from four observations regarding impact of science on policy making. First, despite a long history of looking at science – policy relationships and the use of scientific expertise and evidence for policy making there still seems to be a huge dissatisfaction with the way scientists and scientific results actually do inform policy making (Almeida and Báscolo, 2006; Smith, 2013, p. 4). Second, STI policies are increasingly formulated towards addressing global challenges, and funding systems are being re-shaped to support directionality of scientific knowledge production towards contributing to tackle challenges and serve missions. While science since the second world war has always had an element of mission orientation, the last decade, at least in Europe, has seen a broadening of this challenge and directionality approach in science funding, often framed in the language of crisis, response urgency and severity of the challenges to be tackled (Kuhlmann and Rip, 2014). In consequence, impact on policy of society more broadly, as one critical dimension in challenge orientation, has come to the fore again as a major justification of scientific activity. Third, and as a consequence of this trend, there is an increasing demand for the individual scientists to produce knowledge that has impact. Many Research councils (such as ESRC, NSF) now ask for explicit impact pathways and engagement strategies in funding applications, while in performance based funding systems, such as the UK REF, the explicit demonstration of impact ex post is becoming increasingly important for the assessment of organisations, and by implications, the scientists working within them. This puts the onus of generating impact fully on the scientists, as it is for them to choose topics and create engagement strategies that increase the likelihood of impact to occur. Fourth, in policy making, certainly in the UK, there is a strong revival of the idea that objective evidence can be produced on the basis of rigorous approaches, translated into layman language, and used by the policy making system co-determining decisions on policy (Parsons, 2002; Sanderson, 2009). In this reasoning, the more convincing the evidence, and the more convincing the translation into layman’s language, the more likely the scientific evidence has effect in the policy making process. Here, it is the nature of the evidence that determines the role it plays in policy making. Against this background, there is a need for a change of perspective, to balance how we understand impact of science on policy. We think it is time to focus much more strongly on those non-scientific actors that co-determine research agendas, co-formulate the policy problem and absorb and utilise scientific knowledge in the policy making and implementation process – which has been found as being more important than the nature of the “product” (scientific knowledge) itself (Landry 1999). We follow a reflexive institutionalist approach, which assumes that while policy making is interest and power driven, the policy problems and normative and material interests are constantly redefined in the policy making process (Edler, 2003; Hall, 1993). Importantly, this definition process is influenced by the stock and flow of normative and cognitive ideas and their persuasive and legitimating power. Scientific knowledge is one important input in this (re-)construction of problem definition, interests and solutions, whereby scientists themselves do not occupy a neutral, objective position, but have their own – changeable - normative and material interests. Within this theoretical understanding of the policy making process, our framework takes the qualities and processes of the policy making arena in the focus and consists of three pillars – which are interdependent: (1) the four core institutional dimensions of the policy making arena and their meaning for the individual policy maker, (2) two mechanisms of mutual influence (funding and engaging) and (3) the polity, politics and governance of the policy making process more broadly. (1) The first pillar of the framework conceptualises the nature and role of four institutional dimensions shaping the identities and strategies of actors in the policy making process (very loosely following and extending Scott (1995)): § Cognition: This concerns the basic understanding of cause and effect relationships and how this basic understanding within the policy arena can be shaped (Edler 2003), and extends to the absorptive capacity of the individual actor in the policy making arena (Uzochukwu et al., 2016). § Normative world views and basic paradigmatic positions, whereby we understand that the policy making arena is characterised by normative world views that determine what kind of knowledge is asked for and act as filters for the absorption of scientific knowledge (Rein and Schon, 1993). However, those world views are themselves not stable but can be replaced by competing ideas gaining more legitimacy (Baumgartner / Jones 1993). § Role perceptions, whereby we understand that actors in policy arenas, in bureaucracies, think tanks, parliaments etc. are not driven by their immediate professional function and task only, but they are members of epistemic communities (Haas 1993) and community of practice (Meagher-Stewart et al., 2012) which in turn shapes their world view and their absorptive capacity. § Incentive structures, i.e. the system of rewards and recognition within bureaucracies and more broadly in the policy arena. The second pillar consists of the mechanisms of mutual interaction and influence of science and policy: § Patterns of communication with the science system: From the above it follows that our framework rejects the idea of a simple linear model (which is still somewhat dominant in the literature (Almeida / Cruz 2006), even if there are instances of transfer of a particular research result to the policy arena. We assume that the established patterns of communication and engagement are critical to understand processes of co-definition of problem views and research agendas as well as the acceptance of research results. This builds on a wealth of theoretical and empirical academic work that understands knowledge production as a collective, iterative process between researchers and stakeholders in science studies, ranging from mode 2 frameworks (Gibbons et al., 1994) to the most far reaching approaches of Actor Network Theory in the STS literature (Latour, 2005) . Here we will also take into account the role of intermediation and non scientific expert provision in those interaction processes. § Science funding patterns, which concern the role played by ministries, foundations and agencies and individual policy makers who are concerned with a certain policy problem in funding research and research organisations and in so doing in co-defining research agendas and needs. The third pillar contains the broader framework conditions of the policy making process itself, as this moderates the way in which the first two pillars exert effect: polity, i.e. the constitutional structure of the policy making system and the nature of decision-making and politics, i.e. the nature of coordination and decision making processes, degree of formalisation of deliberation, allocation of competencies, power constellations, resolution of material and normative conflicts. The conceptual paper will close with proposition for our empirical work, demonstrating the usefulness of the framework and its operationalization and its potential added value for the academic debate on impact of science on policy.

References Almeida, C., Báscolo, E., 2006. Use of research results in policy decision-making, formulation, and implementation: a review of the literature. Cadernos de Saúde Pública 22, S7-S19. Edler, J., 2003. How do economic ideas become relevant in RTD policy making? Lessons from a European case study. na. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., Trow, M., 1994. The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. Sage. Hall, P.A., 1993. Policy paradigms, social learning, and the state: the case of economic policymaking in Britain. Comparative politics, 275-296. Kuhlmann, S., Rip, A., 2014. The challenge of addressing Grand Challenges: a think piece on how innovation can be driven towards the" Grand Challenges" as defined under the prospective European Union Framework Programme Horizon 2020. Latour, B., 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford university press. Meagher-Stewart, D., Solberg, S.M., Warner, G., MacDonald, J.-A., McPherson, C., Seaman, P., 2012. Understanding the role of communities of practice in evidence-informed decision making in public health. Qualitative health research 22, 723-739. Parsons, W., 2002. From muddling through to muddling up-evidence based policy making and the modernisation of British Government. Public Policy and Administration 17, 43-60. Rein, M., Schon, D., 1993. Reframing policy discourse, in: Fischer, F., Forrester, J. (Eds.), the argumentative turn in policy analysis and planning, Durham, pp. 145-166. Sanderson, I., 2009. Intelligent policy making for a complex world: pragmatism, evidence and learning. Political Studies 57, 699-719. Scott, W.R., 1995. Institutions and organizations. Sage Thousand Oaks, CA. Smith, K., 2013. Beyond evidence based policy in public health: the interplay of ideas. Springer. Uzochukwu, B., Onwujekwe, O., Mbachu, C., Okwuosa, C., Etiaba, E., Nyström, M.E., Gilson, L., 2016. The challenge of bridging the gap between researchers and policy makers: experiences of a Health Policy Research Group in engaging policy makers to support evidence informed policy making in Nigeria. Globalization and Health 12, 67.


Maria Nedeva (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)
Duncan Thomas 
(Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)

Assessing the Impact of Complex Policy on the Science System: the Research Excellence Framework and the British Universities

SPEAKER:Maria Nedeva

ABSTRACT. Much has been written on issues of the impact of science on economy and society ((Kostoff 1995; Donovan and Butler 2007; Orozco et al. 2007; Kelley et al. 2008; Meagher et al. 2008). While this literature has its merits, it tends to ignore a very important part of the relationships involving science, namely this between policy and science. In other words, the impact of policy on science, or the science system, is relatively under-investigated although there is some work on it.

In this paper we take a step towards unpacking the relationship between policy and the science by focusing on the impact that complex policy could have on the science system and the ways in which these policies are (could be) assessed through that. More specifically, we investigate the impact of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the United Kingdom on the British universities.

For the purposes of this paper we define the impact of a policy or governance tools as the change it produces in an object, i.e. as the change in an object that can be causally attributed to that policy or governance tool (Nedeva et al, 2013). This definition emphasises: 1) the notion of impact as attributable change; 2) the necessity to outline the changing object(s); and 3) the necessity to attribute change causally. Our definition is in accordance with other general definitions, e.g. the one by Becker (2001) who defines impact assessment as the process of identifying future consequences of current actions at individual, organisational or system level.

Complex policies, such as the REF for instance, can be reasonable expected to produce a complex set of impact. To be able to cope with these multiple and diverse effects (impact) we propose to use a typology that uses as points of reference the stated intentions for impact as read in the objectives of policy and funding schemes and whether this impact can be reasonably expected (from the point of view of the policy actor introducing the policy). These two dimensions outline four types of effects, namely ‘straight runs’, long shots’, ‘collateral’ and ‘accidentals’ (Nedeva et al, 2013).

Expectations regarding intended and expected impact (‘straight runs’) and intended and unexpected impact (‘long shots’) can be identified through the stated objectives of policy and research funding scheme. Whether or not these intentions are realised depends on whether they are supported by the core practices and communicated clearly, on the one hand, and on how these are interpreted and used by the potential beneficiaries, on the other. Whilst ‘straight runs’ are intended and anticipated, the ‘long shots’ are effects that are intended but cannot be expected to occur with any level of certainty within a set time frame.

Unintended and expected impact (‘collateral’) is the ‘collateral damage’ that actors anticipate but cannot avoid because there are many social influences at play that the policy or funding scheme cannot control. Finally, unintended and unexpected impact (‘accidentals’) is very interesting as a possibility but difficult to measure. It can, however, be captured if an empirical object is studied exhaustively.

In this paper, we will identify a set of reported effects of the REF on British universities by analysing the findings reported by previous studies. For this, we will use a database of close to 400 research articles, reports and other research outputs. We will also conduct a longitudinal analysis of the REF rules starting in 1996 (this is the cut-off year when the rules of the REF, or the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) as it was known then, started to become more elaborate). Following that the reported impact on British universities will be traced back to the core – and/or peripheral – objectives and instruments of the REF and attributed to a particular type of impact.

We posit that the overall impact of a complex policy that has multiple and varied effects would be ‘positive’ when, and only when, the ‘straight run’ and ‘long shot’ effects outweigh the effects that can be considered to be ‘collateral’ and ‘accidental’.

We believe that this approach contributed to already existing approaches for assessing the impact of complex policy in the following important ways: 1) it deals with the research question directly rather than transferring it to the research object; 2) it shifts attention from the ‘efficiency’ question is assessing policy, namely whether the policy has achieved its objectives, to effects that go beyond these; and 3) it opens the objectives of policy to questioning.


Session 6E: International University Operations


Jan Youtie (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; Manchester Institute of Innovation Research Associate)
Yin Li (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Juan Rogers (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Philip Shapira (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research; Georgia Institute of Technology, UK)

Institutionalization of International University Research Ventures

SPEAKER:Jan Youtie

ABSTRACT. Introduction

International research collaborations are widespread, but few have studied those that reach the size and breadth of what we call international university research ventures (IURVs), in which universities formally set up a research relationship in a foreign country. The involvement of universities in countries other than their home base is a growing phenomenon and the manner in which they carry out such international ventures is very diverse. These ventures range from offices to coordinate outreach with alumni to full-fledged campuses with degree programs. While there have been many studies of transnational campuses, there has not been much useful information to understand what specific features of institutionalization raise a collaboration from an informal international research relationship to an IURV. This paper develops an institutionalization framework and applies it to case studies of five IURVs in the countries with the largest number of IURVs involving US universities: China and Singapore. The framework is designed to compare these ventures based on three dimensions to gauge how they might realize the desired mutual benefits based on the extent to which they acquire certain characteristics in these dimension. The three dimensions are, first, the extent to which they meet nominal institutional characteristics such as having a formal name and agreement; second the requirements of a fully institutionalized research venture based on characteristics such as formally designated directors and administrative support; and, third, the role of supporting characteristics such as government funding program or intellectual property arrangements.

Method The study is carried out through the application of a multiple comparative case study design. We employed a standard protocol that specified case selection, interview questions, and data sources including document review, interviews performed in the first half of 2016 with multiple informants, and observation. The criteria for case selection were as follows: first, we focused on IURVs involving US universities as the home institution in the two countries that have the most IURVs: China and Singapore. Second, we developed a population frame for case selection. In the case of Singapore, we selected the two US universities involved in Singapore’s Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE). In the case of China, we selected three as being the most representative of different ways of operating IURVs in China based on the scale of the IURV and source of funding. The resulting cases are:

*The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) which began in 2007 to foster interdisciplinary research between MIT and National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in applied topical areas of economic import to Singapore.

*Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore (BEARS), created in 2012 to conduct research building efficiency and sustainability between Berkeley, NTU, and NUS.

*University of Michigan Health System –Peking University Health Science Center (UMHS-PUHSC) Joint Institute set up in 2010 to conduct joint clinical research in targeted disease areas.

*The Luminescent Materials and Device International Collaboration between South China University of Technology and University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) started in 2014 and based upon a longstanding collaboration between a Nobel Laureate research at UCSB and a key laboratory at South China University of Technology based on research into organic light emitting diodes.

*Tsinghua Berkeley Shenzhen Institute is a collaboration which began in the city of Shenzhen in 2012 between Tsinghua University and Berkeley. The collaboration is focused on cross-disciplinary research and education in three target research areas.

Results The results suggest that the method and nature of institutionalization of international university research ventures varies considerably. In the two Singapore cases, source of nominal institutionalization was from top-down requirements from the Singaporean government. In contrast, UMHS-PUHSC sets forth administrative processes are determined and enforced jointly by the two partner institutions. The source of nominal institutionalization in this case is mutual agreement of both parties and the sharing of power. LMDIC has an institutionalization pattern because it has a low level of research venture institutionalization relative to the other cases we profiled, but it is more enduring and has more complexity than a typical professor-to-professor collaboration. The TBSI case is similar to the Singapore case in that the institutionalization drivers stem from the government, but because the government is regional, the two participating universities have a stronger position so that they are able in some circumstances to more favorably leverage their positions. The implications of this research are that institutionalization is not a benefit without limits, but an institutionalized structure may be necessary if ambitious research-driven goals are to be achieved.


Wednesday 11 October

Session 8C: Societal Engagement


Barbara Ribeiro (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Abdullah Gok (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research Associate University of Manchester, UK)
Philip Shapira (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research; Georgia Institute of Technology, UK)

Societal needs as value propositions in innovation: A pilot study of societal claims in synthetic biology patents

SPEAKER:Barbara Ribeiro

ABSTRACT. Research and innovation are increasingly expected to provide solutions to societal grand challenges (Stilgoe et al. 2013; Wallace and Rafols 2015). Yet, scepticism continues to grow towards the benefits of science and technology, as well as criticism of mechanisms for its social accountability (Hessels and van Lente 2008; Tyfield 2012). Emerging technologies are often reproached for not delivering on the promises they sustain and produce (Hopkins et al. 2007; Gittelman 2016; Wiek et al. 2016). On the other hand, there is a visible trend that research and innovation are increasingly using notions of societal needs, challenges, and public benefit as value propositions to justify public sponsorship (Youtie and Shapira, 2016). The meaning and significance of these value propositions is thus intertwined at the nexus of values, societal needs, stakeholder interests, and strategic behaviour. In this paper, we probe these interconnections by investigating how societal needs are deployed as value propositions to rationalise innovations through a pilot study of societal claims in synthetic biology patents.

The study engages with two key perspectives in research governance: responsible research and innovation (RRI) and inclusive innovation (Ribeiro et al. 2016; Schroeder et al. 2016) for the social appraisal of translational research. We argue that RRI and inclusive innovation can work as complementary frameworks to allow for more comprehensive analyses of the societal and ethical dimensions of science and technology, which take into account the important, but often neglected, notion of social equity. RRI is not a new idea, but has garnered popularity and usage in scientific and policy arenas over the last few years including in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. RRI is a complex and integrative concept that addresses longstanding issues investigated by the field of science, technology and innovation studies. These include, for example, the anticipation of the impact of emerging technologies, consideration of alternative pathways, reflection around their social and ethical dimensions and public engagement with science and technology (Ribeiro et al. 2016). The notion of inclusive innovation overlaps in some ways with that of RRI, but it shows a stronger focus on the benefits that might be generated from innovation to poor and marginalised groups (Foster et al. 2013). Frameworks and articulations of inclusive innovation do not come without criticism. However, they represent an important alternative to expert-centred, top-down approaches to the governance of research and innovation coming from the fields of technology assessment and bioethics, for example. For some, despite its inherent challenges, inclusive innovation can work as a tool for social development, where social justice is central to the innovation process (Smith et al. 2013).

In the context of these two increasingly popular frameworks, a key argument that deserves attention is that technological innovation does not automatically translates into benefits for a larger part of the population (i.e. beyond those groups directly involved in the sociotechnical system and the elites who can pay for these advancements) (Cozzens and Wetmore 2011). The question of whose and what values are accounted for in the development of science and technology and their social appraisal (Sarewitz 2016) demands a focus on equity and articulations of societal needs (Grimshaw et al. 2011). This complements and expands economic approaches to the analysis of the societal benefits of technology and innovation. In order to widen the scope of social appraisals we must understand how societal needs, benefits (and potential negative impacts) are defined in translational research. Wellhausen and Mukunda (2009), for example, highlight the risk of political debates being dominated by the actors responsible for the development and commercialisation of synthetic biology, e.g. by advanced industrial economies from the North, while overlooking the perspectives of developing economies from the South.

With the objective of contributing to approaches in both fields of RRI and inclusive innovation, in this paper we address the question of what is the ‘value proposition’ of innovation. We put forward a method to map public values embedded in relevant patent applications. Patent applications suggest specific pathways towards which translational research is pointing and embed a range of societal values about how inventions will contribute to the useful realisation of needs not otherwise met by existing applications. By investigating the value propositions of inventions through claims made in patent documentation, a narrative is constructed about objectives and expectations related to new developments in science and technology. We pilot this approach by examining patent applications in the synthetic biology of fine and specialty chemicals – an emerging domain that is justified by expectations that it will contribute to a range of societal needs including environmental protection and greenhouse gas reduction, reduced or higher value use of non-renewable natural resources, enhanced human welfare, and economic development. The main objectives of our study are to:

1. Identify and map the different sets of value propositions (understood as general claims about the economic, societal and/or environmental benefits of patents applications) articulated in the field of synthetic biology (specifically that of fine chemicals). 2. Investigate how these value propositions are articulated and create a typology that will assist in identifying the groups and interests targeted by these propositions. 3. Analyse implications and consider how this approach be further operationalized as a support-tool for decision-making in science and technology policy.

Empirically, we will employ a text analysis of over 2,000 patents in the field of synthetic biology. We will use text-mining techniques on the patent full text to disentangle the value propositions by employing rule based and machine learning approaches. We will then create a typology of value propositions based on this analysis. Finally, we will conduct a statistical analysis to explore various relationships between the characteristics of inventions and innovators and the value propositions in their inventions.

We argue that reflection on the values embedded in innovative technologies is a key step in the evaluation of research and in the anticipation of potential positive and negative impacts of science and technology. Most importantly, shedding light on these values can be helpful in understanding what are the directions being taken by translational research in a given field and how we might shape (and ultimately align) innovation to the needs of broader publics.

While we are often bombarded with allusions to ‘societal needs’ and ‘grand societal challenges’ in both the academic and policy discourse, very few times these needs and challenges are precisely defined so one can grasp the different values embedded in them. This constant black-boxing of the social and value dimensions of new technologies is detrimental to many forms of assessment and to policy-making (Raman et al. 2015). Especially when combined with deliberation activities, we believe that the approach outlined in this paper is useful as a supporting tool for RRI and inclusive innovation programmes, as well as for deliberation and decision-making in science and technology policy.


Session 8D: Linkages in STI


Andrew James(Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, UK)
Duncan Thomas(Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, UK)

The emergence of academic-policy maker linkages: an incentive & capability framework

SPEAKER:Andrew James

ABSTRACT. The link between theory and practice is an on-going concern across disciplines as diverse as political science and medicine. Academics are increasingly expected to demonstrate the impact of their work whilst policy makers and practitioners are expected to pursue evidence based policy and practice.

The “interaction model” of research utilisation emphasises the positive effect on research utilisation of interaction between academics and potential users of academic research. This stresses the role of linkage mechanisms between academics and users in increasing user awareness of academic knowledge, enhancing academic understanding of user concerns, facilitating co-development of knowledge and promoting informal knowledge transfer (van der Arend, 2014; Oliver et al, 2014; Meagher et al, 2008; Belkhodia et al, 2007; Landry et al, 2003; Landry et al, 2001; Oh, 1997; Yin & Moore, 1988).

However, little attention has been paid to the factors and processes that facilitate the emergence of these researcher-user linkages (van der Arend, 2014). Accordingly, this paper develops an analytical framework to explore why and how academic-policy maker linkages develop in the science and technology (S&T) policy process.

The framework sees the emergence of academic-policy maker linkages as the outcome of the interaction between: (1) the incentives and disincentives faced by academics and policy makers in developing such linkages. Those incentives and disincentives include access to resources, views on knowledge creation and use and career and reputation.

and (2) the capabilities of academics and policy makers to develop such linkages. Here we draw on the emerging literature on public sector Absorptive Capacity (AC) which argues that the ability of public organisations to utilise knowledge is related to Absorptive Capacity (Harvey et al, 2014; Piening, 2013; Harvey et al, 2010; Belkhodia et al, 2007)

We also identify the importance of the context conditions in which academic-policy maker linkages develop, emphasising field & discipline (Landry et al, 2001; Wood, 2014; Pettigew, 2011; Van de Ven and Johnson, 2006; Wallace, 1996); higher education policy, resourcing and strategies (Smith et al, 2011) and policy making style and organisational interests (Borgenschneider & Corbett, 2010; Rich and Oh, 1993; Oh, 1997).

We report an exploratory test of our framework using a case study of academic-policy maker linkages in the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The MOD was selected as a “worst case” test bed for UK academic-policy maker linkages on the assumption that its particular features (not least a departmental culture of secrecy) were challenging for the development of academic-policy maker linkages. We undertook a content analysis of public domain documents, presentations, policy statements and face-to-face interviews with 21 MOD policy makers & MOD intermediaries and 10 academics with linkages to the MOD (engineering; psychology; and social sciences). The exploratory test showed that the framework is robust – although there is a need for further specification of our independent variables.

Our paper makes three contributions by: (1) focusing attention on the conditions under which academic-policy maker linkages are established; (2) developing a parsimonious framework that emphasises the interplay between the “incentives” & “capabilities” of academics & policy makers in the establishment of linkages; (3) highlighting that only a small sub-set of academics & policy makers are likely to be incentivised & capable of linking and that capacity building, learning & changed incentive structures may be needed to increase linkages.


Session 8E: International Innovation


Chao Li (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)
Philip Shapira (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Mercedes Bleda (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)

Fumi Kitagawa (University of Edinburgh Business School, UK)

From Innovative SMEs to Innovative China: Innovation Strategies, Dynamics and Networks among SMEs in Chinese Manufacturing Sectors


ABSTRACT. Research Background Having been extremely proactive in making policies and initiating investments on national-wide innovation development in recent years, the Chinese government endeavors to upgrade its national position in the global production system from a low value-added manufacturer to a global leading designer and innovator. Significant efforts have been made by both central and local governments through thousands of tailored initiatives and programs, aiming to facilitate innovative development throughout the whole innovation system, from universities, research centers, to large and small businesses. As a result of the tremendous input, achievements could be identified in terms of the increasing number of academic publications, patents, and the growing amount of high-tech entrepreneurs. Despite the above identified changes based on figures, the underlying transition of innovative power in China’s industries and markets is still unclear. Questions like whether the policy schemes could successfully stimulate the innovative development of Chinese companies, and whether the diffusion of advanced technologies from universities towards firms and between firms could be facilitated, are mysterious to academics and policy makers worldwide, since the changes of innovative capacity in Chinese firms would largely affect the structure of global production system.

Research Design This research is designed to explore the fundamental changes among Chinese firms during the transitional period of institutional and innovation systems in recent years, by looking into the statues and dynamics of firm strategies and connections. In particular, the research targets on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing sectors in Shanghai. Representing the majority of Chinese companies and the main force of global manufacturing base, SMEs, which are historically considered as low-tech and resource-intensive manufacturers (Liu, 2007), have been targets of multiple supportive policy schemes (Liu et al., 2011). The investigation on SMEs could reflect the fundamental changes in Chinese manufacturing sectors. Shanghai, as one of the pioneer cities in China in terms of institutional and innovative development, could provide the perfect location to explore the underlying and emerging changes taken place in China. In order to achieve an in-depth understanding of innovation development among SMEs in Chinese manufacturing sectors, the research adopts the case study method. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with 34 SMEs managers, which are randomly approached in four manufacturing sectors in Shanghai, including intelligent hardware, medical device, equipment and auto-parts industries. Another 11 interviews were done with industrial experts and government officers. Two research questions are examined: 1) What are the innovation strategies among SMEs in Chinese manufacturing sectors? 2) How do SMEs with different strategies develop and reflect on the transition of innovation system? Research protocols are developed based on the theories of innovation strategies (Fagerberg and Srholec, 2008), ambidexterity ( March, 1991, Baum et al., 2000, Smith and Tushman, 2005), and networking strategies (Lee et al., 2010), including questions covering the topics of firm innovation activities (technology and market dimensions), external relationships throughout the product life cycle, identification of market dynamics and government support, as well as firm competitiveness and performance.

Research Findings According to the theoretical understanding of organizational learning and innovation strategies and based on the case analysis, five original types of strategies are identified among SMEs interviewed across the four manufacturing sectors. The fundamental difference to categorize the strategies is the nature of firm innovation and knowledge creation process, referring to the dynamic of knowledge boundaries and the development of firm innovative capabilities. As shown in Fig. 1 (omitted, see attached file), the five types of strategies are labeled as “Exist”, “Enhance”, “Integrate”, “Edge” and “Switch” respectively. The Exist strategy features the pursuit to sophisticate existing knowledge, identified in SMEs focusing on the proficiency of production and service. The Enhance strategy refers to continuously expansion of knowledge boundary through intensive investments on R&D projects, identified in firms pursuing the advantage of innovative capability. The Integrate strategy represents the efforts on combining multi-disciplinary knowledge from different areas, by firms aiming to lead the dynamic of customer demands and the transition of conventional markets. The Edge strategy describes the absolute advantage of obtaining edge-cutting technologies, with which firms keep a close eye on the development and application of world-leading emerging technologies. The last type, the “Switch” strategy, indicates the shift of business focus from the existing one to a new one, which enables firms to enter into brand-new markets with new products developed. In addition, the research identified that connections with various external resources are closely related to the adoption and dynamics of different innovation strategies. The adoption of “Exist” strategy results in close interaction with customers, and the “Enhance” SMEs proactively seek collaboration with universities. Endeavoring to collaborative innovation, the “Edge” firms are more independently competent, while the “Integrate” and “Switch” SMEs reply more on their partners. Through the collaborations with customers, universities and other business partners, technologies could be effectively diffused, which facilitates the transition and restructure of innovation systems. In summary, despite of the traditional image of less innovative SMEs in Chinese manufacturing sectors, this research shows the emerging phenomenon of growing innovative capability of these firms, in particular, via five distinct types of innovation strategies. Furthermore, the research indicates the connections between SMEs and external networks could facilitate the diffusion of technologies and sheds light on the transition of innovation systems in China. The implications for business owners and policy makers are also discussed in the paper.


Session 10C: Science that Makes you Laugh: the Ig Nobels


Gennady Belyakov(Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Sergey Kolesnikov(Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)

Pride or Prejudice: How Research Organizations Respond to Recipiency of Ig Nobel prize?

SPEAKER:Gennady Belyakov

ABSTRACT. This paper is submitted as part of the session proposal: Science that makes you laugh then think! What can be found when science is seen through the looking glass of the Ig Nobel prizes? Organised by: Philip Shapira, Jan Youtie, and David Hu

There is a long-standing controversy around some of the research which does not seem to have an obvious practical utility, especially if it is publicly funded. Public and policymakers often consider such curiosity-driven research to be a “wasteful science”, despite numerous historical accounts of “pure science” suddenly finding applications decades after the discovery was made. The focus of this paper is on how research organisations perceive this type of science conducted by researchers affiliated with them. Some of them may recognise the potential future value of any “purely scientific” knowledge produced. Others may perceive it as a threat to their reputation, or even as a danger of having their public funding cut as a result, especially if accused of “wasteful science”.

A recent example of such accusations is the U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake 2016 report on twenty publicly-funded studies that he found “hard-to-justify”. One of these studies was the recipient of the Ig Nobel prize. Another high-profile case related to the Ig Nobel prize happened in 1995, when Sir Robert May, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser in Britain had to publicly ask award committee to stop including UK researchers as awardees after public controversy around the funding sources of the work that received the prize. Clearly, that didn’t stop researchers from accepting prizes but could have affected the willingness of organisations to engage public in communication.

We look at the Ig Nobel prize as one of the most prominent examples of public recognition of witty curiosity-driven research, which, according to the prize motto, first makes people laugh then makes them think. The Ig Nobel prizes are usually awarded to individuals or teams of scientists, leaving universities and research organisations to decide how to respond to recipiency of the prize by affiliated researchers. Should they proudly recognise it as a major achievement of their researchers? Should they use it as an opportunity to carefully communicate the motivation and potential benefits of such research to the public to escape accusations of “wasteful science”? Should they simply ignore it, hoping that the questionable achievement would be quickly forgotten by the public? Or maybe they can even take some action to prevent this type of research from happening under their roof. We argue that decisions that they make in relation to these questions depend on two factors: the scientific value and recognition of the work that was awarded the Ig Nobel prize, and a potential public reaction to the research as a result of the award.

To investigate the response of institutions to Ig Nobel prize recipience, we have collected data on scientific publications referenced on the website of the award for each prize. We operationalize scientific merit of these publications by Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI), and Citation Benchmarking metric which positions the citation impact of an article against other publications of the same age and field of study. Both metrics are included in Scopus bibliometric database. The second factor - public reaction - is proxied by the number of social media mentions on Twitter, also available among metrics offered by Scopus. We limit our analysis to Ig Nobel prizes awarded in 2008 and later, due to the availability of social media data dependent on the activity of Twitter user base. The list of publications referenced by these prizes that have complete coverage of both Twitter and citation data amounts to 62 items.

By adopting a two by two matrix approach, we position these publications along two dimensions by a number of citations and Twitter mentions (or ‘virality’). We classify them into four groups: ‘clever and fun’ (highly cited/highly viral), ‘clever’ (highly cited/low viral), ‘fun’ (low cited/highly viral), ‘neither’ (low cited/low viral). Publication is classified as ‘clever’ if its citation benchmarking metric is in the highest quartile (75% or more), or, alternatively, if its FWCI measure is very high when citation benchmarking is not available. Publication is classified as ‘fun’ if it has more than 200 Twitter mentions, which is roughly correspondent to the top quartile of Twitter mentions in our sample. Using this approach, we classified 8 publications as “clever and fun”, 19 papers as “clever”, 9 publications as “fun”, and 26 publications as “neither”.

We explore the interaction of this classification with the third dimension – mentions of the Ig Nobel prize in press releases, news pages, and other communication genres on the websites of research organisations referenced as affiliations of prize recipients on the Ig Nobel prize websites. We have found 130 article-affiliation pairs (because some institutions received the Ig Nobel prize more than once) for our sample of 62 articles. By using this approach, we identify how research organisations respond to this type of recognition: whether they brag about the achievement, keep a low profile/are indifferent, or employ other strategies.

We find that, on average, 56% of organisations recognised the recipiency of the prize in some form. The highest recognition (65%) is observed for “clever” articles, suggesting that it is the “safest” way for institutions to leverage the publicity gained from the award. In this case, they can easily reject potential claims of “wasteful science” by appealing to high citation impact of underlying publications. “Fun” and “Neither” sectors of the matrix received 56% and 52% recognition. Surprisingly, the lowest recognition - just 48% - is found for the “Fun and Clever” articles. Possible explanation is the small size of this group (8 publications). However, by looking at the recognition patterns across organisations, we also find potential strong impact of exogenous factors. For example, we find very few mentions of Ig Nobel prizes on websites of French institutions, which are well represented both in the full population of Ig Nobel awardees and in the “Fun and Clever” group. We also find that institutions in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands tend to be much more open about receiving the Ig Nobel prize. Such country-level variation suggests a strong influence of institutional environment and requires further explanation.

There is a variety of genres which research organisations use (or don’t) to communicate recipiency of Ig Nobel prize. Some use external press releases distribution platforms; some publish them on their website. Often recognition of award comes in the form of a news piece that can be on the main site of organisation or a department. It can be included in the newsletter, annual report, or alumni magazine. Sometimes recognition is reduced to a mention of the prize among other awards received by affiliated researchers, included as a part of researcher profile, or CV. Some universities tend to use more genres than other. Some try to avoid accusations in ‘wastefulness’ by providing a detailed explanation of the scientific and practical value of research. These genres can be differentiated in terms of the level of organisational recognition of Ig Nobel award and can provide a further frame for investigation.

To conclude, we found that not all organisations are equally open to recognising Ig Nobel awards received by affiliated researchers. Differences can be potentially attributed to country-level research environment specificity as well as the effect of focusing events.


Philip Shapira (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research; Georgia Institute of Technology, UK)
Abdullah Gok( Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Chao Li (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Fatemeh Salehi (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK)
Gennady Belyakov (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)

Milana Shapira(n/a, Germany)
Seokkyun Woo(School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Sergey Kolesnikov(School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
Yanchao Li (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK)
Jan Youtie(Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)

The Ig Nobels – Who Wins What and Why?

SPEAKER:Philip Shapira

ABSTRACT. The Ig Nobel Prize “honors the most eccentrically innovative minds and their unique endeavors in the sciences, arts, and humanities.” (Abrahams, 2006). Ig Nobel prizes have been awarded annually since 1991 by Nobel Prize winners at a Harvard University ceremony organized by the Annals of Improbable Research. Each year, there is an eclectic mix of laudations honoring Ig Nobel Prize winners, including for measuring brainwave patterns resulting from chewing different flavors of gum (Biology, 1997), how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence leads to inflated assessments (Psychology, 2000), levitating a frog with magnets (Physics, 2000 ), showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards (Linguistics, 2007), and inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg (Chemistry, 2015). The work that results in such prizes is typically peer-reviewed science that often only subsequently is appreciated also to be funny. Ig Noble prizes are also awarded for ironic or paradoxical societal “contributions” such as the award to Baring’s Nick Leeson for “using the calculus of derivatives to demonstrate that every financial institution has its limits” (Economics, 1995) or to the British Royal Navy which sought to save money by “ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout ‘Bang!’” (Ig Nobel Peace Prize, 2000). In all cases, Ig Nobels are awarded only for scientific research that actually occurred or for societal events that are verifiable and real. Ig Nobel Prize winners are selected by the “Ig Nobel Board of Governors” comprising the editors of the Annals of Improbable Research and a “considerable number” of scientists (including Nobel Prize winners), journalists and others from among many thousands of nominations sent in each year (Abrahams, 2002). Ig Nobel Prize nominees are given the opportunity to decline the award before it is made public, although very few do.

The Ig Nobel prizes and the associate prize award ceremonies are indeed humorous and entertaining and, in recent years, have attracted increasing attention through both conventional and new media channels. National Public Radio has broadcast the Ig Nobel award ceremonies since 1993, while internationally recognized press outlets now feature the awards (see, for example, BBC News, 2016; The Guardian 2016; Los Angeles Times, 2016). A live online video feed of the Ig Nobel ceremony has been offered every year since 1995. Views of the video of the annual Ig Nobel ceremonies on You Tube total more than 240,000 over the period 2012-2016 (as a benchmark, for the main Nobel Prize ceremony, the equivalent number of views is just over 500,000 – deservedly twice as many, but not an order of magnitude higher!).

Following the development of a data set of Ig Nobel Prizes and multiple associated variables, we examine 253 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded to 595 recipients from 1992 to 2015 (we will update to 2016). We report here some initial descriptive findings. The awards are given to single individuals (for example, sole authors of papers), to multiple authors of a single paper, to two or more papers and their authors, and organizations. The most common arrangement is multi-authored papers receiving a single award, which comprised 62% of the prize recipients. Twenty percent of the recipients are involved with awards split between two papers. Sixteen percent of the recipients are single individuals. Organizations accounted for 3% of the prize recipients. In a given year, anywhere from nine to 13 prizes are awarded. The fields in which these prizes are awarded can vary but most often are for Chemistry, Medicine and Physics (25 years each). Peace awards are the next most common at 23 years, followed by Biology (21 years), Literature (21 years), and Economics (20 years). Roughly half of the years had awards for Psychology (12 years) and Public Health (10 years). Less common were awards for Mathematics (7 years), Nutrition (6 years), Engineering (5 years), and Art (3 years). Ten additional categories were offered in two years and 29 categories were uniquely offered for one year only.

Grouping these categories into broad areas, using the OECD disciplinary coding of science and technology fields, we see that 38% of the awards are in natural sciences, 20% in medical and health, 16% in social sciences, 11% in humanities, 20% to recognize “Peace” efforts, and 18% in engineering and technology. The biggest change over time in topical area is the rise of medical-related prizes in the most recent period. Most, but not all, of the prizes are for scholarly work. Seventy-four percent reference an academic paper, while the remainder refers to news articles (9%), books (7%), patents (5%), reports (3%), or other documents (e.g., artifacts, reports, theses, films, mandates, or software). Scientific papers are increasingly becoming the primary medium of this prize. In the 1991-1999 period, 60% of Ig Nobel laudations reference scientific papers. In the 2000-2007 period, 71% reference scientific papers. In the 2008 to 2015 period, 88% reference scientific papers. By region, 55 countries are represented among award recipients. Most recipients come from countries north of the equator, although there is representation in Latin America and Africa. Europe and the Americas have the largest number of recipients. These two regions account for 77% of the first authors and 73% of all authors. The US has the most recipients at 200, comprising 34% of all recipients, followed by the UK at 81 or 14% of all recipients, and Japan at 67, or 12% of all recipients. When considering the countries of the first named recipient in the award laudation, the US has the most at 32%, the UK second at 12%, and Japan third at 11%.

In the paper for the Atlanta Conference on Science and Technology Policy, we will further present our analysis of who are the Ig Nobel Prize winners. In addition to probing where they come from, we will examine what scientific research or societal endeavor is associated with their selection. Are there topics that more frequently catch the eye of the Ig Nobel Board of Governors? Since no records are kept of the selection process (Abrahams, 2006), analysis of the prizes (including of information publicly available on authors, laudations, underlying peer-reviewed research, scholarly citations, and news and social media mentions) will be used to provide answers to the seemingly improbable questions as to who wins Ig Nobel Prizes and for what and why?

This paper is put forward as the opening paper in a proposed session on “Science that makes you laugh then think! What can be found when science is seen through the looking glass of the Ig Nobel prizes?” It will provide context, to understanding the Ig Nobel phenomenon and its role in education and explanation of outlandish scientific and societal achievements. It forms part of an international project on the analysis of the Ig Nobel Prizes that applies bibliometrics and datamining techniques to topics that that arguably they should not be applied to. But, as this paper will demonstrate, when they are applied, the results that are produced are both humorous and insightful (in keeping with the theme) and lively discussion will be provoked. The authors named on this paper all contributed to the project.

References Abrahams, M. 2002. Ig Nobel Prizes: The Annals of Improbable Research. Orion, London. Abrahams, M. 2006. The Man Who Tried to Clone Himself: And Other True Stories of the World’s Most Bizarre Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes. Plume (The Penguin Group), London. The Guardian, 2016. Ig Nobel prizes: trousers for rats and the truthfulness of liars, September 22. Los Angeles Time, 2016. Studies on the perils of polyester underwear and the personality of rocks win Ig Nobel Prizes, September 22. BBC News, 2016. Ig Nobel win for Alpine 'goat man'.




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