Research councils facing new science and technology: the case of nanotechnology in Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland

Frank Victor van der Most

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    199 Downloads (Pure)


    This thesis investigates how research funding organizations (RFOs) respond to a new emerging field of science and technology. It takes nanoscience and nanotechnology (nanotechnology for short) as its case and compares the responses of RFOs in Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Finland. Nanotechnology. The thesis uses resource dependence theory, which is extended with boundary-work theory, to analyze the cases. The main data sources are official documents, websites and interviews with individuals in RFOs, ministries and universities who are somehow involved in RFOs' dealings with nanotechnology and related funding instruments. Findings are organized in country/case chapters, which each highlight aspects of the problems involved in financing the emerging field of nanotechnology. This field poses challenges to RFOs because of its interdisciplinary character, its needs for particular investments in equipment and laboratory facilities, and its questioning of the distinction between basic research and technology development. Furthermore, it emerged in a period of increasing pressure on RFOs to address economic and other societal issues rather than mere curiosity driven research agenda's. Taken together, the RFOs' behavior shows a conservative face: they approached nanotechnology through the procedures and instruments that were already in place, even if these did not address nanotechnology's challenges. However, when their resource supplies are threatened, RFOs tend to adapt in order to secure their resources. Here, the notion of resources not only includes financial means, but also input from researchers such as project proposals, advice and peer review. In the conservative response, one can distinguish four stages of upcoming and increasing pressure on an RFO and its responses to nanotechnology: nano is around; a promising new field is recognized; reluctant institutional change; and organizational change to address nanotechnology's challenges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Rip, Arie, Supervisor
    • van der Meulen, Barend Jan Rutger, Supervisor
    Award date13 Nov 2009
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-2897-9
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2009


    • IR-68556


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