Why do international research collaborations last? Virtuous circle of feedback loops, continuity and renewal

Ulnicane, Inga
August 2015
Science & Public Policy (SPP);Aug2015, Vol. 42 Issue 4, p433
Academic Journal
It is often argued that the unintended consequences of science policy transformation over the last 50 years--increased role of fixed-term project funding, evaluation and temporary contracts--are short-termism, fragmentation and limited freedom to choose research topics and collaborators. This paper focuses on a phenomenon that should be highly unlikely in this context: long-term international research collaborations lasting over 10 and 20 years which remain creative and productive. To shed light on the little studied topic of why and how long-term international research collaborations evolve, the paper develops a mid-range theory from multiple longitudinal case studies. It suggests that long-term collaborations combining formal and informal interactions operate as virtuous circles whereas earlier results ensure feedback loops and thematic and organisational continuity, but renewal is crucial. The emergent theory is built from multiple data sources and methods analysing international collaborations in the emerging field of nanosciences in Europe.


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