For slightly over two years now I’ve been International Fellow at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Lund; this position is hosted by Prof. Merle Jacob at the Research Policy Institute (RPI). I would mention some of the opportunities that this position has afforded, but the only formal duty associated with it is that once a year I (and my fellows on the programme) had to come to Lund, give a lecture on what has been done and have dinner with the sponsor and members of staff.
This event – the public lectures – took place last night. Topics and quality were varied but overall it wasn’t a bad night. I am taking away the message from research on ‘work-life balance’ – integration is not necessarily a great thing. Apparently, high managers in South Korea have integrated approach to the work-life balance which simply put means that ‘work has become their life’ – these people have dinner with their families ten times a year. Can you imagine living like that? My contribution to this debate would be: one should distinguish between their ‘job’ and work; and be very strict about distinguishing between job and life. Work is a different matter and this can spill over.
What did I do?
Well, I started with a reminder of how I saw the key issues in my research field three years ago (I haven’t changed my mind; since then I have just refined my understanding of these issues and the possible ways to approach them).
The main issue (as I perceived it) was, and still is, out limited understanding of how governance (policy measures and funding instruments) affects science; in a language more aligned to this of policy, this is the overarching issue of impact in all its manifestations. Within this, four issues attract my attention, and concentrate my effort and energy, namely that
- Analysis, to the extent to which this exists, is fragmented. This means that neighbouring research fields have made great advances in understanding specific subdomains but there is little understanding of the ‘causal’ mechanisms linking change of different aspects of science and specific policy measures.
- Problems with attribution. Identifying and measuring the effects of policy is a daring task; attributing this change to specific policy action is a challenge of epic proportions.
- Lack of frameworks for analytical comparison. Methodologically, the research fields of Science and Innovation Policy Studies (SIPS), STS and Higher Education Research (HER) are in a purgatory between the macro and the micro (individual cases) when what can afford the opportunity to link governance and change is the meso-level; this gap can be overcome by developing a number of frameworks for analytical comparison.
After that, I expanded on the ways in which with support from and in collaboration with, colleagues from universities and research centres in many European countries I have been advancing knowledge and shaping the research agenda around these clusters of issues. Only looking at the last two years I would say that the time of the Fellowship has been productive. A fascination grew out to become a progressive research line combining publications, attracting resources, training PhD students, enlarging my research network, deepening my collaboration with colleagues at the University of Lund and starting a, for the time being small, research group at MIoIR.
What I can say, is that my time as Fellow of Lund University has been very productive so far. Only the colleagues at the RPI – my host department – can say whether I have contributed anything to their research agenda and the life of the unit.
What makes me jump with joy, though, is not the output that I have managed to generate during these last couple of years and that is likely to continue. What this fellowship did for me was to afford me a bit of time and to bring the excitement of what I do back into my life. And, of course, it also allowed me not simply to generate output but to hope that one day this will have considerable impact.