National Science and Innovation Policy: Between Curiosity, Market, and Mission

Aixa Aleman-Diaz, Signe Vikkelsø, Jane Bjørn Vedel, Alan Irwin, Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, Xiaobai Shen, Xuan Li

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


What determines the distribution of national public funding for science and innovation (S&I)? While the literature has described a move towards “mode 2,” with strong focus of applied science and user involvement, there are also voices emphasizing the value of basic science and “Nobel Prizes.” We trace the changing balance between such ideas in selected national S&I policies. Proposing an analytical framework outlining three ideas about what research should be driven by - “curiosity”, “market”, or “mission” - we analyze their presence over time in selected national S&I policies in the US, China and Denmark in the years 2003-2020. By analyzing 14 national S&I documents, we identify similarities and differences in the presence and influence of these ideas. We also point to inner tensions and changes within each set idea. Contrary to what is often predicted in the literature, we find a co-existence and mutual influence of these ideas over time. We discuss the dynamics behind these patterns and the implications for national public research funding strategies and public policy. We also contribute to the theoretical understanding of these ideas by proposing the term “isomorphic difference” to capture the simultaneous spread and translation of ideas across contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventEU-SPRI: Science and Innovation - An Uneasy Relationship? - Online, WWW
Duration: 9 Jun 202111 Jun 2021



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