- Description of the Research Group +
The Laboratory aims to foster policy analysis of emerging issues in science, technology and industry. Emphasis is on in-depth policy formulation and the need to secure the sustainable development of our societies. The research team addresses how the conditions for the social construction of technological systems impact on the emergence of new social realities and related potential factors for socio-economic change and development. To achieve these goals, the team uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, in addition to case studies, as they are developed worldwide.
The analysis has been concentrated in Europe over the last decade, but emerging and developing economies are increasingly encompassing our research focus. The ultimate goals are: To derive science and technology policies and innovation strategies in terms of socio-economic development; To develop and use advanced research methodologies for the analysis of techno-economic systems; To promote knowledge exchange and the management of technology for the optimization of industrial processes, as a way to promote competitive advantages at the corporate level.
The Laboratory is organized in three main thematic areas, as follows.
Research on science, higher education and policy has focused on issues of key practical relevance for emerging and developing regions worldwide. We follow a systemic and thematic approach, analyzing from an historical perspective the evolution of science and higher education systems and the roles of policies, resources, investment and reforms on the development of those systems. Thematic studies performed over the last years include the analysis of academic inbreeding, the teaching-research nexus and knowledge sources, making use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. They consider the growing complexity of knowledge systems, as well as the uncertain and complex conditions that societies in general are experiencing under globalized dynamics.
Industrialization, innovation dynamics, technological change and entrepreneurship have been addressed as the main drivers behind rapid productivity growth and social well-being improvements in the last decades. Research focuses on issues associated with development patterns through technological change, integrating emerging science and technology capacity, the role of entrepreneurial activity and the creation/growth of firms and industries and employment dynamics. Social and economic impacts of technical change have been considered in terms of employment generation and human capital, exploring related linkages with firm performance and quality of job creation. New research platforms will be set up with academic, regulatory and business partners to identify industrialization and specialization pathways through comparative studies of knowledge networks, supply chains, and industrial geographies.
Risk Governance and the social appropriation of knowledge, with the rational for research been driven by the need to help facilitating the social appropriation of knowledge under diversified situations and knowledge contexts. It includes bio-sciences risk governance, with emphasis on regulatory frameworks in a way to deepen the idea of "smart and adaptive" regulatory frameworks (which seems to focus on "quick and easy" practices), with the idea of "intelligent and integrative" that would consider "careful and coherent" practices. In addition, risk communication to lay people is considered, to complement early studies on risk perception.
- Main achievements +
Recent research has shown that science policies emphasizing the advanced qualification of human resources, together with democratizing access to science and internationalizing the science base, are shown to help build the conditions needed to drive brain gain over time. In particular a new set of data was explored for the period 1970-2010 in Portugal with the ultimate goal of helping to promote the absorptive capacity that emerging regions and countries worldwide need to acquire to learn how to use science for economic development. It provides a dynamic approach to the cumulative process of building knowledge-based societies. The results show the need to consider the co-evolution of brain gain, brain drain and brain circulation over time and space. In addition, they suggest the importance of certain major counter-intuitive policy instruments to facilitate the co-evolution of human capital formation and research capacity building. In the case of Portugal, these instruments have included a centralized program of research grants, research careers independent of traditional academic career tracks, and a diversified system of funding research units and institutions based on research assessments through international peer reviews.
Changing patterns of industrial production at a world level have need analyzed in terms of shaping factors for technical change and related impacts on skilled employment and advanced training of human resources. This is because industrialization has been the main driver behind rapid productivity growth achievement and social well-being improvements in different world regions in the last 200 years. Despite this, there is a clear difference in industrialization levels across and within different regions, with the world's geographical patterns of production changing over the last decades. Our work shows that the geographical concentration of industrial production have facilitated many of those regions to increasingly lose their productive ability, leading to changes in employment structure and the mobility of skilled people. This raises new concerns for science and industrial policies, which require being further discussed in terms of new forms of stakeholder engagement. Our analysis focus on patterns of knowledge production and diffusion, looking specifically at the role of new technology based firms, towards revisited industrial policies.
A major initiative on design for uncertainty in urban contexts has been developed, including actions to look at risk perceptions, risk communication and stakeholder engagement of lay people from vulnerable communities. The Mouraria neighborhood, in Lisbon, has been used for preliminary fieldwork, which was focused on two distinct areas for risk mitigation, namely: i) non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes; and ii) patterns of consumer behavior in energy usage. While early studies on risk perception have been mainly based on "unilateral" expert views (i.e., "methods of expert elicitation"), it has become more and more clear that the involvement of lay people is critical for the governance of risks. In particular, vulnerable groups remain an outlier category of this type of analysis and have been the main focus of our work.
- Structure of the Research Group +
The challenge is to establish "technology and policy" as a field of study that focuses on complex engineering systems and products, viewing those systems and products in their broad social and industrial context. This requires faculty from engineering, management, and the social sciences committed to integrative, interdisciplinary engineering systems and policy programs.
The Laboratory benefits from a multidisciplinary team with backgrounds in engineering, economics, sociology, psychology and public policy. Through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, the activities of the research group are developed in close collaboration with a broad set of international key partners, including Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, as well as the IRGC Academic Network and a number of Brazilian partners (USP; UFRJ, UNICAMP).
One of the main strengths of the Laboratory has been established in close collaboration with the Doctoral Degree on "Engineering and Public Policy", which is offered as dual degree between IST and Carnegie Mellon University. In the meantime, a Master of Business Engineering in "Technology Management Enterprise" is being planned and will be launched at IST before the end of 2014.
Research topics and activities within the group are usually proposed and developed internally, by the members, with frequent collaboration with external partners. Among these external partners are members of the scientific advisory board (Gary D. Rhoades, University of Arizona, USA; http://www.coe.arizona.edu/faculty_profile/788; Simon Marginson, Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of Melbourne, http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/people/marginson.html; and Jussi Valimaa, FIER Finnish Institute of Educational Research, Professor, Head of research group Research on higher education; http://ktl.jyu.fi/ktl/english/staff/jussi_valimaa). They also serve the research program Science, Higher Education and Policy (SHEP), which aims to foster in-depth research of issues in science and technology, higher education and public policy. Manuel Heitor is the scientific coordinator of this program, while Hugo Horta is the executive director.
The research is organized around specific research projects comprehended by major research themes organized according to three main themes: i) Science, higher education and policy; ii) Industrialization and innovation dynamics, including issues of technical change and entrepreneurship; and iii) Risk governance and social appropriation of knowledge.
- Objectives of the Research Group +
For 2015-2020 the research agenda for this Laboratory will emphasize three main themes: 1) Systems of knowledge creation and diffusion, including knowledge for development; 2) Risk Governance and science systems; and 3) Technological change, industrial development and innovation, including new technology business developments.
Theme 1 is aimed to foster the systematic observation and in-depth research of issues in science and technology, higher education and public policy in developed and developing regions worldwide. The ultimate goal is to create and promote totally independent, credible, and international, observatories of science, technology and higher education policies that report publicly and periodically, relevant information on the state of policies and budgets at a country and regional level. It should foster an international perspective and convey new research and understanding of the impact of the current economic situation on the "states of knowledge", including science, technology and higher education capacity. A specific action will be oriented towards developing societies, with emphasis on Portuguese speaking countries.
Theme 2 is centered on the relation between science, education, diffusion of scientific knowledge, and the risk awareness behaviors and attitudes of populations at large. The ultimate goal is to inform policy regarding the features that education and scientific awareness influences, and draws people to act when they are at risk. This has key relevance for science, education and health policies in ageing, globalized modern societies.
A major issue is to facilitate the preliminary identification of main aspects to consider in the evolving regulatory system in the bio-sciences, without prejudice to patient safety and therapeutic efficacy.
Theme 3 focuses on innovation dynamics and related industrialization processes in both developing and developed regions of the world. It envisions the setting-up of a large task force for the "observation" of industrialization, to cover various aspects, including: i) The geography and dynamics of economic development and specialization - how scientific, technological and industrial bases evolve and impact socioeconomic development; ii) The structure, geography and dynamics of supply chains and knowledge networks in different sectors and markets; iii) The structure and availability of human resources and competences, as the basis for industrial activity; iv) Policy tools to foster local industrialization processes (e.g., public procurement, local production agreements, public expenditure in R&D and training).
The analysis will include occupational choice and transitions into - and out of - newly created firms; entrepreneurship dynamics; entrepreneurial activity among minorities (e.g. immigrants, disabled and older individuals); underrepresented social groups in entrepreneurship (e.g. women); firm demography and industry dynamics; knowledge intensive and technology-based businesses; high-growth firms; and job creation and regional development.
The expected results of the activities of the research group are twofold: firstly, the production and international diffusion of scientific research papers to be presented in top conferences and published in top academic journals; secondly, the production of policy and management reports and advice, and the diffusion of our findings to practitioners, policy makers and the community at large through open workshops and public presentations. The ultimate objective is to influence the formulation of higher education and technology policies, as well as policies aimed at supporting the development and growth of new businesses and industries.