Changing Authority Relations within French Academic Research Units since the 1960s
From Patronage to Partnership
Much recent research has focused on how intensified competition for resources and increasing demands for relevance and accountability have affected patterns of authority relations between academics and various stakeholders (the state, companies, research councils, and so on). Such effects may be visible at the bottom level of individual researchers or research teams, which are the elementary units of scientific production, as well as at a more aggregated level — that which the institutions teams belong to, and whose nomenclature and characteristics vary across countries: university departments, institutes and research centres, and research units or laboratories. These studies of organized research units (ORUs) usually focus on how ORU cope with external pressures and defend their professional autonomy against external claims on the products of their research. In contrast, there are only a few investigations on how external drivers for change affect authority relations within ORU, and more specifically between research teams and the administrative head of the unit. This chapter focuses on the reconfiguration of these intra-organizational authority relations as a result of structural changes affecting the public science system. It argues that the understanding of these intra-organizational dynamics is crucial as the management of research is still a decentralized and distributed process. The chapter focuses on a specific subtype of ORU: the French ‘mixed research units’ (unit és mixtes de recherche).
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