Reference : Struggling with emerging instruments in Belgium: how do institutions adapt to conting...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Law, criminology & political science : Political science, public administration & international relations
Struggling with emerging instruments in Belgium: how do institutions adapt to contingency of tentative governance ?
Fallon, Catherine mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de science politique > Gouvernance et société >]
'International Conference Tentative Governance'
28-29 octobre 2010
Institute of Innovation and Governance Studies - Eu-SPRI Forum
Pays Bas
[en] science policy ; policy instruments ; institutionalism
[en] During the last decennia, the Walloon region in Belgium has launched new instruments to support university research, with a turn to a more systemic and strategic vision. A new program called "Poles of Competitiveness" supports collaborative research in areas selected as strategically important by the Government (eg. pharmagenomics). This dynamics piles up on the new pattern of support to the valorisation of research within the universities, with new public funds available for IP valorisation and support to spinoffs. The Government is also associated with major pharmaceutical firms and university research centres in public-private partnerships. These are three examples of the policy lines developed at the regional level under the mantra of "open innovation", emphasizing the importance of close collaboration between university and industry researchers within "interorganisationnal networks of learning".

These new instruments interfere with established forms of distributed governance: industry partners are called upon to take the lead in the strategic management of large research programs and universities entered rapidly the game, while the regional administration was put on the side.

Based on field research (interviews with actors of the STI in Wallonia), the paper proposes to discuss the impact of this transformation on the actors of the STI regime (university organisations; researchers; public administration). How does this new macro-narrative transform the existing socio-technical landscape? Why do the political authorities avoid any form of opening of the governance process? The collected material is rich enough to apprehend the complexity of institutions, norms, discourses and networks of the different stakeholders within the STI regime and to analyse how they adapted to take advantage of the new set of policy instruments. How do the partners position themselves with regard to the very narrowly instrumental logics of the "poles of competitiveness"? Administration is trapped with visions of public services somehow at odds with the new rationale for more university-industry partnerships. University researchers themselves tend to enter these new playing field while keeping the freedom to lay back on other historically available instruments.
Tentative governance is a dynamic reality, open to the tensions of the set of actors associated to the process. Instruments and institutions are to be considered not as static but as dynamic, undergoing continuous transformation to adapt to contingency, particularly as long as the scientific sector considered is an "emerging one" where all the actors are fighting to keep open the rules of the game.
Researchers ; Professionals

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