Beyond the Boundary: Science, Industry, and Managing Symbiosis

Birgitte Gorm Hansen

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    Whether celebratory or critical, STS research on science-industry relations has focused on the blurring of boundaries and hybridization of codes and practices. However, the vocabulary of boundary and hybrid tends to reify science and industry as separate in the attempt to map their relation. Drawing on interviews with the head of a research center in plant biology, this article argues that biology and biotech are symbionts. In order to be viable and productive, symbiosis needs to be carefully managed and given room for divergence within mutual dependence. This process does not take place as the negotiation of a preexisting science-industry boundary. Rather, viability is obtained through a strategy of circumventing the science-industry food chain and sequestering biotech components within the research center. Symbiosis allows academic scientists to do biology while at the same time demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBulletin of Science, Technology & Society
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)493-505
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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