Agricultural public-sector research establishments in Western Europe: research priorities in conflict

Levidow, L.; Søgaard, V. and Carr, S. (2002). Agricultural public-sector research establishments in Western Europe: research priorities in conflict. Science and Public Policy, 29(4) pp. 287–295.

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/beech/spp/20...

Abstract

Two conflicting pressures face agriculture-related PSREs (public-sector research establishments) in Western Europe. Governments expect PSREs to contribute to national economic performance and to build links with industry, thus contributing particularly to the major private-sector innovation trajectory involving biotechnology. At the same time, PSREs are expected to use their knowledge and expertise in the public interest, in at least two ways: by developing new techniques and products which have public benefits but are unlikely to be commercially attractive; and by performing a public ‘watchdog’ role, e.g. assessing possible environmental risks from agricultural inputs and practices. Increased private-sector involvement poses problems for their public-service role. Such tensions operate across various national circumstances, despite major differences. These case studies cast doubt on suggestions that knowledge production becomes more socially accountable as research priorities address real-world practical problems.

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