, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 279–297 | Cite as

The Evolution of a National Research Funding System: Transformative Change Through Layering and Displacement

  • Kaare AagaardEmail author


This article outlines the evolution of a national research funding system over a timespan of more than 40 years and analyzes the development from a rather stable Humboldt-inspired floor funding model to a complex multi-tiered system where new mechanisms continually have been added on top of the system. Based on recent contributions to Historical Institutionalism it is shown how layering and displacement processes gradually have changed the funding system along a number of dimensions and thus how a series of minor adjustments over time has led to a transformation of the system as a whole. The analysis also highlights the remarkable resistance of the traditional academically oriented research council system towards restructuring. Due to this resistance the political system has, however, circumvented the research council system and implemented change through other channels of the funding system. For periods of time these strategies have marginalized the role of the councils.


Research funding Funding systems Gradual change Research policy 



The research presented in this article has been partly funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the ‘Center for Research Quality and Policy Impact Studies.’ Additional funding was provided by Aarhus Universitet (DK).


  1. Aagaard, Kaare. 2003. Forskningspolitik og tværdisciplinaritet. Rapport 2003/7. Analyseinstitut for Forskning.Google Scholar
  2. Aagaard, Kaare. 2011. Kampen om basismidlerne. Historisk institutionel analyse af basisbevillingsmodellens udvikling på universitetsområdet i Danmark. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Political Science. Aarhus University.Google Scholar
  3. Aagaard, Kaare, and Niels Mejlgaard (eds.). 2012. Dansk Forskningspolitik efter årtusindskiftet. Aarhus Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  4. Aagaard, Kaare, and Tine Ravn. 2012. Forskningsrådssystemet—Tilføjelser og forskydninger. In Dansk Forskningspolitik efter årtusindskiftet (Chapter 8), eds. Kaare Aagaard, and Niels Mejlgaard. Aarhus Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  5. Aagaard, Kaare, Hanne F. Hansen, and Jørgen G. Rasmussen. 2016. Mergers in Danish higher education: An overview over the changing landscape. In Mergers in higher education, eds. Romulo Pinheiro, Lars Geschwind, and Timo Aarrevaara, 73–88. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aagaard, Kaare, and Jesper W. Schneider. 2015. Research funding and national academic performance: Examination of a Danish success story. Science and Public Policy 43: 518–531. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scv058.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Auranen, Otto, and Mika Nieminen. 2010. University research funding and publication performance: An international comparison. Research Policy 39(6): 822–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benner, Mats, and Ulf Sandström. 2000. Institutionalizing the triple helix: Research funding and norms in the academic system. Research Policy 29(2): 291–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Braun, Dietmar. 2003. Lasting tensions in research policy-making—a delegation problem. Science and Public Policy 30(5): 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bush, Vannevar. 1945. Science, the endless frontier. A report to the President. Washington, DC: US Government Print Office.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, Wesley M., Richard R. Nelson, and John P. Walsh. 2002. Links and impacts: The influence of public research on industrial R&D. Management Science 48(1): 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crespi, Gustavo A., and Aldo Geuna. 2008. An empirical study of scientific production: A cross country analysis, 1981–2002. Research Policy 37(4): 565–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christiansen, Peter M., and Niels Christian Sidenius. 1988. Forsknings- og teknologipolitik i Danmark. Politica 20(3): 246–268.Google Scholar
  14. The Danish Government. 2006. Progress, Innovation and Cohesion - The Danish Globalization Strategy. Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  15. Edquist, Olle. 2003. Layered science and science policies. Minerva 41(3): 207–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elzinga, Aant, and Andrew Jamison. 1995. Changing policy agendas in science and technology. In Handbook of science and technology studies, eds. Sheila Jasanoff, Gerald Markle, James Petersen, and Trevor Pinch, 572–597. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Etzkowitz, Henry. 1999. Academia Agonistes: The ‘Triple Helix’ of Government-University-Industry Relationships in the United States. In Towards a new model of governance for universities? A comparative view, eds. Dietmar Braun, and François-Xavier Merrien, 78–99. London: Jessica Kingsley.Google Scholar
  18. Etzkowitz, Henry, and Loet Leydesdorff. 2000. The dynamics of innovation: From national systems and “mode 2” to a triple helix of university-industry-government relations. Research Policy 29: 109–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freeman, Christopher. 1987. Technology policy and economic performance: Lessons from Japan. London, UK: Pinter.Google Scholar
  20. Hansen, Hanne Foss. 1996. Forskningsforvaltning og forskningspolitik: En diskussion af udviklingstendenser relateret til struktur, proces og indhold. Samfundsøkonomen 1996(3): 18–29.Google Scholar
  21. Geuna, Aldo. 2001. The changing rationale for European university research funding: Are there negative unintended consequences? Journal of Economic Issues 35: 607–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Geuna, Aldo, and Ben R. Martin. 2003. University research evaluation and funding. Minerva 41: 277–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gibbons, Michael, et al. 1994. The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Godin, Benoit. 2005. Measurement and statistics on science and technology: 1920 to the present. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Grønbæk, David. 2001. Mellem politik og Videnskab. Københavns Universitet.Google Scholar
  26. Gulbrandsen, Magnus, and Jens Christian Smeby. 2005. Industry funding and university professors’ research performance. Research Policy 34(6): 932–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guston, David H. 2000. Between politics and science: Assuring the integrity and productivity of research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Irvine, John, Ben R. Martin, and P.A. Isard. 1990. Investing in the future: An international comparison of government funding of academic and related research. Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  29. Hacker, Jacob S. 2004. Privatizing risk without privatizing the welfare state: The hidden politics of social policy retrenchment in the United States. The American Political Science Review 98(2): 243–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hicks, Diana. 2012. Performance-based university research funding systems. Research Policy 41(2): 251–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hood, Christopher. 1995. The “New Public Management” in the 1980s: Variations on a theme. Accounting, Organizations and Society 20(2): 93–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jensen, Bjarne L. 1996. Dansk forskningspolitik—fra finkultur til national strategi. Samfundsøkonomen 1996(3): 30–39.Google Scholar
  33. Kline, Stephen J., and Nathan Rosenberg. 1986. An overview of innovation. In The positive sum strategy: Harnessing technology for economic growth, eds. Richard Landau, and Nathan Rosenberg, 275–306. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  34. Laredo, Phillipe, and Phillipe Mustar. 2001. Research and innovation policies in the new global economy. An international comparative analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  35. Lauridsen, Per Stig, and Ebbe Graversen. 2013. Forskning og udviklingsarbejde i den offentlige sektor 1967–2011. Dansk Center for Forskningsanalyse. Aarhus Universitet.Google Scholar
  36. Lepori, Benedetto. 2006. Public research funding and research policy: A long-term analysis for the Swiss case. Science and Public Policy 33(3): 205–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lepori, Benedetto, et al. 2007. Comparing the evolution of national research policies: What patterns of change? Science and Public Policy 34(6): 372–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lundvall, Bengt Åke. 1992. National systems of innovation: Towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning. London: Frances Pinter.Google Scholar
  39. Mahoney, James, and Kathleen Thelen. 2010. Explaining institutional change: Ambiguity, agency, and power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Martin, Ben R. 2003. The changing social contract for science and the evolution of the university. In Science and innovation: Rethinking the rationales for funding and governance, eds. Aldo Geuna, Ammon J. Salter, and W. Edward Steinmueller, 7–29. Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  41. Nelson, Richard R. (ed.). 1993. National innovation systems: A comparative analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Nonaka, Ikujiro, and Hirotaka Takeuchi. 1995. The knowledge creation company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Olesen Larsen, Peder. 1981. Forskningspolitik i et lille land. Rhodos.Google Scholar
  44. Pavitt, Keith. 2001. Public policies to support basic research: What can the rest of the world learn from US theory and practice? (and what they should not learn). Industrial and Corporate Change 10(3): 761–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Potì, Bianca, and Emanuela Reale. 2007. Government and R&D allocation policies: An empirical exploration of changes in delegation and evaluation modes. Science and Public Policy 34(6): 417–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rip, Arie. 1994. The republic of science in the 1990s. Higher Education 28: 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schickler, Eric. 2001. Disjointed pluralism: Institutional innovation and the development of the US congress. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Schneider, Jesper W., and Kaare Aagaard. 2012. Stor ståhej for ingenting. In Dansk Forskningspolitikefter årtusindskiftet (Chapter 8), eds. Kaare Aagaard, and Niels Mejlgaard. Aarhus Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  49. Senker, J., et al. 1999. European comparison of public research systems. TSER Project No. SOE1-CT96-1036. Unpublished report.Google Scholar
  50. Stehr, Nico. 1994. Knowledge societies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Streeck, Wolfgang, and Kathleen Thelen. 2005. Beyond continuity: Institutional change in advanced political economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Sörlin, Sverker. 2007. Funding diversity: Performance based funding regimes as drivers of differentiation in higher education systems. Higher Education Policy 20: 413–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thelen, Kathleen. 2003. How Institutions Evolve: Insights from Comparative Historical Analysis. In Comparative historical analysis in the social sciences, eds. James Mahoney, and Dietrich Rueschemeyer, 208–240. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van der Meulen, Barend. 1998. Science policies as principal agent games: Institutionalization and path dependency in the relation between government and science. Research Policy 27(4): 397–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Whitley, Richard, Jochen Gläser, and Lars Engwall (eds.). 2010. Reconfiguring knowledge production: Changing authority relationships in the sciences and their consequences for intellectual innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Ziman, John. 1994. Prometheus bound. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Government, Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, School of Business and Social SciencesAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

Personalised recommendations