The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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Science  Councils 9780796925206

Science councils have been tasked with complex new mandates, to achieve these they have to interact with knowledge users in the private and public sectors and be of benefit to communities, particularly to those that are vulnerable and marginalised.

What are the diverse forms of interaction in science councils with distinct legacies, what are the diverse forms of partners and what are their outcomes? What are some of the successful strategic policy interventions, organisational structures and internal incentive mechanisms that science councils have created to channel and promote these interactions?

Questions such as these are addressed in this timely and ground breaking research as it investigates how scientists interact with actors in the informal sector, social development and community spaces, alongside their role in technology development for industry and government actors. Balancing multiple mandates: The changing role of science councils in South Africa is animportant study – building an evidence base to inform the contribution of science councils to innovation, poverty reduction and inclusive economic development in South Africa.

Product information

Format : 240mm x 168mm
Pages : 304
ISBN 13 : 978-0-7969-2520-6
Publish Year : March 2016
Rights : World Rights





CHAPTER 1. Literature review and conceptual framework

  • A brief review of the literature on public research institutes
  • The local literature
  • The international literature
  • Conceptual framework
  • Universities and public research institutes in the national system of innovation
  • Flows of knowledge and capabilities
  • From firms and research to teaching and other partners
  • Channels, benefits and risks
  • Universities as knowledge-based institutions
  • Analysing institutional conditions
  • A framework to guide data gathering and analysis
  • The distinctive nature of public research institutes?

CHAPTER 2. Science councils in the South African national system of innovation and development imperatives

  • Three broad waves driving the establishment of public research institutes
  • Colonial origins, agricultural and mineral focus
  • Industrialisation and big science
  • Marketisation and public accountability
  • Public research institutes in a changing policy landscape
  • The baseline SETI Review in 1998
  • A national Research and Development Strategy to realign governance and funding arrangements
  • Performance management to drive change in science councils
  • A reassertion of the technology and innovation mandate
  • Grand Challenges: science councils as cross-cutting enablers
  • The system remains fragmented and uncoordinated: the Ministerial Review 2012
  • Funding sources and prioritisation of socio-economic objectives
  • The current emphasis on social innovation and ‘quadruple helix'
  • A triple mandate for science councils

CHAPTER 3. The design and methodology

  • Research design
  • Aim and research questions guiding analysis
  • The institutional sample
  • Case studies of institutional frameworks
  • A survey of scientists at the core of the methodology
  • Realised sample and generalizability
  • Data analysis strategy
  • Correspondence analysis 
  • Cluster analysis
  • Classification trees
  • In Summary
  • A note on generalizability

CHAPTER 4. A mission-orientation to the mining and minerals processing sector: Mintek

  • Introduction 
  • From Minerals Research Laboratory to Mintek
  • The mining value chain in South Africa
  • An analysis of Mintek's roles and institutional conditions
  • Mintek's mandate and objectives
  • Mintek's mandate in the national system of innovation
  • Organizational structure
  • A matrix structure
  • Financial imperatives
  • Performance Assessment 
  • Dynamic interaction within clusters
  • Formal internal interface mechanisms
  • A dedicated external interface structure
  • Patterns of interaction with external stakeholders in the practice of Mintek scientists
  • Drivers of interaction
  • The scale of interaction
  • The most frequent patterns of types of relationship
  • The predominant types of relationship
  • A small but significant pattern of economic development oriented types of relationship
  • A small set of social development oriented types of relationship
  • Interaction with large firms and universities
  • What are the outputs, outcomes and benefits of interaction?
  • Relationships types associated with outputs, outcomes and benefits 
  • Benefit to scientific reputation
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER 5. As a geological survey it is world class: the Council for Geoscience

  • Introduction
  • Historical overview of the CGS
  • CGS in a shifting policy landscape from 1998
  • Raising concerns to counteract the impact of contract work: the 2003 SETI Review of the CGS 
  • Ten years later: CGS at the time of the 2009 Review
  • Shifts, Changes, Challenges
  • The shifting mandate and strategic objectives in tension
  • Fixed and variable legislative mandates
  • Current strategic objectives
  • A traditional organisational structure
  • Strategic planning and monitoring as an internal interface structure
  • External interface structures missing
  • Scientific networks and regional offices as external interface mechanisms
  • Incentives
  • A world class survey grappling to balance financial and intellectual imperatives:
  • Patterns of interaction with external stakeholders
  • A small group does not perceive interaction as an organizational priority
  • Most frequent external partners
  • Multiple partners and networks?
  • The nature of relationships with external partners: analysis in terms of the CGS mandate
  • Two distinct clusters of types of relationship
  • Nature of interactive activity in and between each cluster
  • What are the benefits and outcomes of interaction?
  • Relationship types and outputs
  • Benefits from types of relationship: strategic insights
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER 6. Transforming into a 'modern agricultural research organisation': The Agricultural Research Council

  • Introduction
  • Brief history of the Agricultural Research Council
  • The agricultural sector in South Africa
  • Origins in the first wave: responding to local needs
  • A national science council formed in the third wave
  • Mandate and objectives of the ARC: the challenge of transformation 
  • Policy frameworks to promote interaction
  • Shifting organisational structures and cultures 
  • Financial imperatives blocking change and driving interaction
  • Scientific excellence driving interaction
  • Organisational structure and capacity
  • Internal interface mechanism
  • External interface mechanisms
  • Incentive mechanisms
  • Restructuring to improve internal coherence and coordination
  • Patterns of interaction with external stakeholders 
  • The nature of relationships with external partners: analysis in terms of the ARC mandate
  • What are the outcomes of interaction?
  • Outputs of interaction with external partners
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER 7: A mission oriented public research institute facing the challenge of revitalisation: The Medical Research Council

  • Introduction
  • Medical research to deal with local problems: a brief history of the MRC
  • Change and diversification of roles at MRC after 1994: evidence from SETI reviews
  • MRC scientists views of the revitalisation process
  • Structures and mechanisms to facilitate interaction: An unstructured approach
  • Patterns of interaction with external stakeholders in the practice of MRC scientists
  • A fifth of scientists do not engage
  • Knowledge partners most common
  • A wide spread of diverse partners
  • What are the outputs of this pattern of interaction?
  • Outcomes and benefits and associated relationship types
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER 8. A critical public research institute responding to developmental challenges: The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

  • Introduction
  • Historical trajectory of the CSIR
  • Meeting the innovation and research needs of early industrialisation processes
  • A shift to Framework Autonomy and financial imperatives driving the agenda
  • Democratisation driving a more inclusive agenda
  • Mandate of the CSIR
  • The full range of research and technology development
  • Global competitiveness, service delivery and scientific contribution
  • Current interpretations of the mandate
  • The impact of financial drivers on the research agenda
  • Aligning and focusing activity: organisational structure
  • Internal interface mechanisms: Research strategy, flagships, strategic
  • partnerships and coordination structures
  • Technology transfer structures as external interface mechanisms
  • Strategic partnership unit as external interface mechanism
  • Individual incentive mechanisms 
  • A growing centralision driven by the strategic focus on impact
  • Patterns of interaction with external stakeholders 
  • A statistical caveat
  • A wide range of partners
  • Collaborative and contract types of relationship predominate
  • Scientific outputs
  • Organisational and scientific benefit
  • Conclusion: A critical knowledge and technology institution responding to
  • Developmental challenges

CHAPTER 9. Conclusion: Science councils balancing multiple mandates

  • Introduction
  • The role of science councils in the national system of innovation
  • Balancing and prioritising roles
  • Patterns of interaction
  • Implications for policy and practice
  • Systemic conditions that facilitate and constrain
  • Incentivising engaged science 
  • Organisational conditions that can promote and support interaction
    • Would it help to have an organisational strategy on innovation, engagement, and research impact on beneficiaries?
    • What can be done to enhance internal alignment between research programmes – for example, what is the role of the new group structure in this regard?
    • What is the potential role for the existing centralised coordinating units as structures driving interaction more systematically and in a more coherent and coordinated mannr across ARC units and scientists?
    • Could there be a clearer set of commitments in KPAs to provide stronger incentives for individuals?
    • How can the organisation adapt the interface mechanisms it developed to interact with firms, in order to support small scale miners and communities to promote livelihoods and inclusive development?
    • If financial imperatives are major drivers of interaction (given that 70% of income is from contracts), how can the organisation fund development-oriented R&D?
  • In a similar vein, at CGS we raised strategic questions about how the commercial client driven work could be better aligned and balanced with the scientific excellence and quality of life activity. We noted that individual drivers and coordination may work in a small organisation, but raised questions about the value of stronger coordination and internal alignment, perhaps through extendng the functions of existing interface structures.

In conclusion


Primary Texts

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Secondary Texts

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