, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 137–166 | Cite as

History matters: The inherited disciplinary structure of the post-communist science in countries of central and eastern Europe and its restructuring

  • J. Kozlowski
  • S. Radosevic
  • D. Ircha


The inherited disciplinary structure of the science of post-communist countries of CEE carries a strong common features of its past. The communist heritage is present in: a) a relatively homogeneous research profile among post-communist countries; b) the similar structure of disciplinary comparative advantages of post-communist countries; c) the unbalanced and concentrated disciplinary structure of comparative advantages. The analysis is based on ISI databases and uses statistics on papers and citations for the 1992–1997 period for all central and eastern European countries as well as for other world regions. In the conclusions we discuss the relevance of the results for the restructuring of science in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.


Science System Comparative Advantage World Region Disciplinary Structure CMEA Country 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Notes and references

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    In the next two sections we compare CEECs with other regions and also with a few individual countries: Germany, Spain, Ireland, S. Korea and Taiwan. Germany is a natural reference point for CEECs due to its geographical proximity, a common science tradition and the economic and technological impact which Germany is exerting and will exert in the future on countries of this region. Spain is a less developed EU country which is often used as a pair in comparisons with Poland due to its size. Ireland is a less developed but fast growing EU economy which is considered as a model for many smaller CEECs. S. Korea and Taiwan are examples of fast growing economies and of similar development levels which during the 1980s have started a fast progress in explicit, R&D based, technological activities. (SeeChoung, J.-Y., Technological capabilities of Korea and Taiwan: An analysis using US patent statistics,STEEP Discussion Paper, No. 26, November, 1995, SPRU, Brighton).Google Scholar
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    Chemists and engineers in the First World War and theoretical physicists in the Second World War played major roles as creators of the most significant weapons,I. Infeld,I Kongres Nauki Polskiej, Warszawa, 1951, p. 175). Priorities in physics in Poland in the early 1950s included: solid-state, nuclear and molecular physics (ibid, p. 125). See also:F. A Janouch, Nuclear power in the CMEA countries: The East continues to go nuclear, In:C. Sinclair (Ed.):The Status of Civil Science in Eastern Europe, Dordrecht, 1989, pp. 315–334.Google Scholar
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    SeeL. Laude, M. Wautelet, Laser research and prospects for laser applications, In:C. Sinclair (Ed.):The Status of Civil Science in Eastern Europe, Dodrecht, 1989, pp. 290–291. However, one should stress greater autonomy of academies of sciences in Poland and Hungary than, e.g., in Czechoslovakia or East Germany.Google Scholar
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    This model of higher education emphasised science and engineering and an engineering curricula that focused on training for production. The concentration, particularly in engineering, has gradually lessened in the more open political climate of the 1990s. (SeeHuman Resources for S&T: The European Region, NSF 96–316, Special Report, Arlington VA, 1996, p. 57.Google Scholar
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    Contrary to the post-communist countries, in the USA in the 1970s and the 1980s applied research has grown much quicker than basic research, esp. medical sciences, engineering sciences and applied social sciences (business, marketing, management, public administration and social work). SeeCollins R., Waller, D.: Did social science break down in the 1970s, In:J. Hope (Ed.),Formal Theory in Sociology. Opportunity and Pitfall? New York, 1994, cited afterT. Sozanski, Socjologia teoretyczna jako nauka normalna: utopia czy realna szansa? In:Studia Socjologiczne (in print).Google Scholar
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    See, e.g., international success of Russian linear and formal algebra. “In some cases shortage of equipment leads to concentration on theoretical research and to pursuit of directions of research not popular in the West. (Although it should be observed that this theoreticist bias may also be promoted by other factors, including cultural traditions and the desire of some scientists to avoid more ‘politicised’ applied work).” (J. Cooper, Commentary, In:The Status of Civil Science in Eastern Europe,C. Sinclair (Ed.), Dordrecht, 1989, p. 335). “One strategy [of researchers in CMEA countries] is to avoid work requiring sophisticated equipment. This manifests itself in a bias towards theoretical work and the excellence of such work conducted in many CMEA countries. Alternatively, those committed to experimental work have to set their sights on novelty-on being first rather than best.” (R. W. Munn, Molecules and electronics in Poland, In:C. Sinclair (Ed):The Status of Civil Science in Eastern Europe, Dordrecht, 1989, p. 284). See also the history of semiconductor technology in Poland,J. L. Loferski, Science, Technology and the Economic Salvation in Poland: Myths and Reality, In:C. Sinclair (Ed.):The Status of Civil Science in Eastern Europe, Dordrecht, 1989, p. 151).Google Scholar
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    “In the 1960s and 1970s, the picture of science presented in the media reflected the political and institutional regime. The First Secretary of the Communist party was presented as the most prominent politician and the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences as the most prominent scientist. The media celebrated the cult of science; science was a great, hierarchical institution and scientists were heroes”,Reviews of National Science and Technology Policy. Poland, OECD, Paris, 1996, p. 103.Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    SeeNational Innovation System: Analytical Findings, OECD, DSTI/STP/TIP (98)6, p. 9.Google Scholar
  12. 19.
    The experience of seriously declining returns on investment in many areas is often illustrated by examples such as, e.g., particle physics, seeManaging Science Systems: In Search of Best Practices, OECD, 1997.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kozlowski
    • 1
  • S. Radosevic
    • 2
  • D. Ircha
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Science Policy and Higher Education StudiesWarsaw University(Poland)
  2. 2.SPRU, Science and Technology Policy ResearchUniversity of SussexBrighton(UK)
  3. 3.Laboratory of Medical PhysicsWarsaw University(Poland)

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