Science Policies as principal-agent games; Institutionalization and path dependency in the relation between government and science

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    130 Citations (Scopus)
    23 Downloads (Pure)


    National science policies seem to converge in policing the double-edged problem of how to get policy and industry interested in the conduct of science and how to get science interested in the problems of policy and industry. However, similarity in the labels of institutes and instruments for science policy conceals traditional differences in the institutionalization of the relation between the state and science. This article conceptualizes the relation between government and science as an ongoing principal–agent game, with different possibilities for stabilization. Each of these differ to the extent the principal or the agents can pursue their strategy. Institutionalization of The Endless Frontier ideology, of consensus-making and of competition between agents is elaborated. Path dependency emerges as costs for institutional changes are often higher than the accommodation of new instruments and policies to existing structures. The argument is mainly and deliberately analytical, but empirically illustrated by the development of foresight in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)397-414
    Number of pages18
    JournalResearch policy
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Foresight
    • Institutionalization
    • Science policy
    • METIS-148888
    • Principal–agent theory
    • IR-73940
    • Path dependency

    Cite this