Innovation and Control: Performative Research Policy in Sweden

  • Sven Widmalm
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 39)


This essay analyses the growth of an “innovation paradigm” in Swedish research policy from the 1990s and analyses how this paradigm is expressed in the government’s recent research policy bill that is currently being implemented. The discussion of the bill highlights some apparent paradoxes. First, the bill uses the notions of basis research and innovation interchangeably. Thus, for example, it proposes to increase the Swedish Research Council’s resources for supporting basic research, but it also demands that the council direct more of its resources to support work that is important for the country’s high-tech industry. Second, the bill strongly emphasises economic as well as academic competition. Scientific and economic competitions are described as if there were no significant difference between the two. The bill assumes, for instance, that the quality of research can be measured by its success on a (publishing) market. The analysis of the bill relies on the notion of performativity. The bill is seen as a performative act aiming simultaneously to change the practices of research and the language in which it is discussed. If the bill’s policies succeed, the paradoxes mentioned above will fade away as traditional research practice disappears.


Innovation System Private Enterprise Academic Freedom Language Game Artificial Market 
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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for History of Science and IdeasUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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