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How scientists may ‘benefit from the mess’: A resource dependence perspective on individual organizing in contemporary science
University of Gothenburg.
2014 (English)In: Social Science Information, ISSN 0539-0184, E-ISSN 1461-7412, Vol. 53, no 3, 341-362 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is general consensus in the study of science, and especially research policy studies, that a wave of profound change has struck academic science in the past decades. Central parts of this change are increased competition, growing demands of relevance and excellence, and managerialism reforms in institutions and policy systems. The underpinning thesis of this article is that, if seen from the perspective of individual scientists, these changes are exogenous and lead to greater environmental complexity and uncertainty, which in turn induces or forces individuals towards strategic planning and organizing in order to maintain control over their own research programs. Recent empirical studies have made various worthy contributions to the understanding of the macro-level (institutions, policy and funding systems, and broader epistemic developments) and the micro-level (individual and group behavior) developments of the social system of science, but there is a lack of comprehensive conceptual tools for analysis of change and its effect on individual scientists. This article takes the first steps towards developing a conceptual scheme for use in empirical studies of the (strategic) response of individual scientists to exogenous change, based on an adaptation of Resource Dependence Theory (RDT). The intended theoretical contribution builds on conceptualization of the individual researcher as crucially able to act rationally and strategically in the face of potentially conflicting demands from a growingly unpredictable environment. Defining a basic framework for a broad future research program, the article   adds to the knowledge about the recent changes to the academic research system and calls for renewed interest in organizing in science and an analysis of the complex social system of science from the perspective of its smallest performing units: individuals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 53, no 3, 341-362 p.
Keyword [en]
individual scientists, organizing, resource dependence theory, sociology of science, strategic action
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-148594DOI: 10.1177/0539018414524037ISI: 000342830100004ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84910100798OAI: diva2:736858

QC 20140902

Available from: 2014-08-10 Created: 2014-08-10 Last updated: 2015-10-05Bibliographically approved

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Hallonsten, Olof
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