Reference : Research governance through public funding instruments: Institutional change of educa...
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Educational Sciences
Research governance through public funding instruments: Institutional change of educational research in the European Union and England, 1984-2014
Marques, Marcelo mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
University of Luxembourg, ​​Luxembourg
Docteur en Sociologie
Powell, Justin J W mailto
Hadjar, Andreas mailto
Harmsen, Robert mailto
Kosmützky, Anna mailto
[en] Research governance ; Instrumentation ; Institutional change ; Educational research ; European Union
[en] Supranational and national public research funding instruments have been recognizing considerable attention from the political agenda in the last decades. Either as forms to target specific themes and priorities for disciplinary fields or to better allocate public funding, they are essential instruments in the contemporary research governance.
While most research literature has been focused on studying either the political choice related to the implementation and evolution of a specific research funding instrument or the impact of single forms on the behavior of organizations and individuals, less attention has been paid to the overall funding arrangements that have been shaping, not only higher education and research systems, but also disciplinary fields, as for the case of educational research.
Using a multilevel standpoint, I study the creation and development of three of the most critical contemporary public research funding instruments in two different settings, the European Union and England, and their impact in the field of European and English educational research. At the European Union level, I analyze the creation and evolution of the European's Union Framework Programme (EUFP) (1984-2013), in particular from the moment educational research started to be funded (1994), and look at its impact in the cognitive development and structural organization of the European educational research. At the English level, I analyze the creation and evolution of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) (2000-2011) and the Research Assessment Exercise/Research Excellence Framework (RAE/REF) (1986-2014) and look at their impact in the political, disciplinary and organizational levels of educational research.
Therefore, the aim of this thesis is twofold: to analyze the creation and evolution of the supranational and national public research funding instruments, directly or indirectly targeted to the field of educational research, and to analyze the impact of the research funding instruments at the political, disciplinary and organizational levels of European and English educational research. Due to the continued institutionalization of these public research funding instruments I expect to find a gradual transformative change in educational research.
Theoretically anchored in the new-institutional thinking – historical, sociological and Scandinavian institutionalism - and in the political sociology of policy instruments and instrumentation approach, I conceptualize public research funding instruments as institutions with cultural-cognitive (ideas), normative (norms and values), and regulative (formal and informal rules) dimensions. Moreover, I apply the most recent contributions of the new-institutional thinking to the field of higher education and explore the concepts of nested organizational fields and the concept of the university as a strategic actor in order to understand the way research organizations engage and react to public research funding instruments.
Methodologically, I use a mixed-method sequential explanatory research design. The first phase of the study aimed to understand the creation and development of the three funding instruments, taking into consideration the available data related to the instrument itself and the data related to educational research. In order to do this, I have used both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitatively, I analyzed policy documents related to the EUFP, TLRP and RAE/REF and developed a content analysis from a sample of EUFP funded research projects for the field of educational research (N=99) and from a sample of TLRP funded research projects (N=54), in order to examine the creation and development of the funding instruments and their impact ar the European and English disciplinary level. Quantitatively, I use social network analysis and applied centrality measures to the participating research organizations in the European educational research (N=500) to explore the interconnections between research organizations in their regional, national, and organizational diversity across Europe. Furthermore, I locate the multidisciplinary field of educational research in the RAE/REF and analyze the submission behavior (staff, outputs, funding) of Schools of Education over time (N=239). The second phase of the study was dedicated to interviewing 22 experts in the field of English educational research.
Overall, the results show a gradual transformative change in the cultural-cognitive and normative dimensions (EUFP, TLRP, RAE/REF), while maintaining continuous stability (EUFP, TLRP) in the regulative dimension of the public research funding instruments. In specific, I show how the ideas of knowledge-society, internationalization, and Europeanization (EUFP), evidence-based policy and practice (TLRP), and quality, excellence and impact (RAE/REF) have been gradually transforming the development of the research funding instruments. Additionally, I show how the funding instruments have enacted the norms and values of international collaboration, competition, relevance, capacity, usefulness, evaluation, and performativity to the field of European and English educational research. Because research funding instruments are incentive-based forms, their regulative and legislative basis is rather weak, displaying signs of continuous stability, except for the RAE/REF due to its continuous formalization, standardization, transparency, and growing concentration of funding policy, framed as a robust research evaluation system.
When exploring the effects of the public research funding instruments I delve into the disciplinary and organizational levels to find a gradual transformative institutional change in the field of educational research mediated by both intended and unintended consequences of the policy instruments. At the European level, I find a strong relationship between the themes and priorities of the EUFP and the funded research projects in educational research, showing the role of the EUFP in the creation of the broader political project of the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area. Moreover, the social network analysis shows that while the size of the countries helps to explain the number of research organizations that participate in the EUFP, the capacity to become central and influential is linked connected to organizational factors. Indeed, universities from medium and small countries are relatively more influential, albeit with stratification manifest across the EUFPs. Exploring the position of the English Schools of Education, while England is the country with the largest number of participating research organizations, almost none of them are central or influential in the network, showing the role of England as an exporter of internationalization.
At the English level, I show how the disciplinary dynamics of educational research interact and mediate the impact of the TLRP. For the case of the RAE/REF, I find decreases in the number of academic staff whose research was submitted for peer review assessment; the research article as the preferred publication format, and the rise of quantitative analysis and applied research. The policy instrument invoked a highly strategic behavior amongst the Schools of Education, with such reactivity demonstrated (1) by the increasing submission selectivity in the number of staff whose publications were submitted for peer review as a form of reverse engineering, and (2) by the rise of the research article as the preferred output as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In conclusion, I discuss how the institutionalization of the public research funding instruments represent a case of epistemic governance; contribute to the Matthew effect in science; confer actorhood to research organizations and trigger highly strategic forms of behavior and unintended consequences, resulting in a gradual transformative change of European and English educational research. Because they interact and are mediated by different levels, the study shows the multi-composite character of educational research governance.
Education, Culture, Cognition & Society (ECCS) > Institute of Education & Society (InES)
The New Governance of Educational Research: Comparing Trajectories, Turns and Transformations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Belgium (EDRESGOV)
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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