Principal investigators as scientific entrepreneurs
- 931 Downloads
Although principal investigators are key actors in scientific fields, there is little focus on what they actually do in shaping new scientific directions. This paper studies PIs practices to better understand their roles. Our central contribution is to identify the different ways in which PIs engage themselves in science, in implementing four main practices: ‘focusing in scientific discipline’, ‘innovating and problem solving’, ‘shaping new paradigms and models’ and ‘brokering science’. While ‘focusing’ and ‘innovating’ remain close to project management, ‘shaping’ and ‘brokering’ look more like entrepreneurial activities, shaping new horizons, reshaping boundaries between subfields and among organizations. External orientations to how they engage in different practices shapes PIs roles to articulate different worlds and to reshape the boundaries of organizations, knowledge and markets. Studying PIs’ practices and their combinations advances our knowledge about their roles in managing the interplay between science policies and scientific agendas more effectively highlighting their role as scientific entrepreneurs.
KeywordsPrincipal investigator Scientific entrepreneur Practices Engagement Boundary Career path Role Position
JEL ClassificationM1 O31 O32 L38
We gratefully acknowledge C. Baden-Fuller and B. Bozeman from their helpful and developmental comments on the earlier version. We would also like to express our deep acknowledgements to C. Robin who performed some of the interviews and to Jon Morgan of Paraphrase who helped us refine our arguments. We acknowledge the financial support of ANR (ANR-09-NANO-032-01 and ANR-10-BLANC-1811-02).
- Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., & Barthe, Y. (2001). Agir dans un monde incertain: Essai sur la démocratie technique. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
- Frestedt, J. (2008). The role and impact of the principal investigator. Monitor, 31–35.Google Scholar
- Joerges, B., & Shinn, T. (Eds.). (2000). Instrumentation between science, state and industry: Between science, state, and industry. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publisher.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1991). Le métier de directeur de recherche. In D. Vinck (Ed.), Gestion de la recherche. Brussels: De Boeck.Google Scholar
- Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy—Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 571–610.Google Scholar
- Weick, K. (1979). A social psychology of organizing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Weick, K. E. (2003). Organizations in action: Social science bases of administrative theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, 48(3), 505–509.Google Scholar