Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

New Policies for Science and Technology and the Impacts on Public Research Institutes: A Case Study in Brazil

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

New Policies for Science and Technology and the Impacts on Public Research Institutes: A Case Study in Brazil

Article excerpt


This paper discusses how technological production has been suffering the effects of international transformations in terms of the institutional reorganization of research centers and changes in the development of funding for innovation practices. Technicians and scientists, who have traditionally been central to technological development, have had their activities redefined through new organizational formats which today are well-established.

The globalization and internationalization of science represent tendencies that have strongly affected the constitution of social groups that lead technological practice in a global context. Today it is possible to detect global processes of connection among companies, laboratories and public research institutions creating science and technology, which are both localized and asymmetrical (Albert and Laberge, 2007; Gingras, 2002; Vessuri, 2008).

The question that now arises for the peripheral countries is: what impact has the internationalization of scientific research had on national institutions? How have national scientific elites been behaving in light of the new parameters of technological research funding?

In this new scenario, the formation of a new kind of science creates an agreement between the research community and market interests. The purpose of this text is to verify the impacts that these tendencies have had on the scientific and technological productivity of the Public Research Institutes. To elucidate these questions, we analyze the case of the Technological Research Institute (Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas - IPT), part of the University of Säo Paulo (USP) and linked to the Development, Economy, Science and Technology Department of the state of Säo Paulo.

With this case study, we intend to analyze how innovation policies have interfered in the organizational criteria of the Institute and its scientific production, and where researchers and technicians stand regarding the new innovation policies. From a discussion on organizational logics, the transformations taking place in Public Research Institutions (Instituiçôes Públicas de Pesquisa - IPPs) can be observed over time (Salles-Filho et al., 2000).

Firstly, Science and Technology policy in Brazil will be discussed, as well as its implications for research activities. Then, the text will discuss the Brazilian IPPs, seeking to emphasize the historical changes they have been undergoing and how these imply an adherence to tendencies arising in the international context. Finally, the case of the IPT - an illustrative example of the internationalization of new scientific practices in the IPPs - will be briefly discussed.

Globalization, Science & Technology

Noble's analysis (1988) of technological development in the US shows deep connections between the country's economic system, scientific culture and technological practice. In Noble's opinion, from the beginning of the 20th century, the US began to experience the emergence of a great military-industrial-scientific complex, whose internal coherence gradually solidified. The subsequent spread of this model to other countries and the globalization of Research & Development (R&D) led to a major shift in the relationship between science, technology and innovation practices.

Electrical and chemical industries formed the cutting edge of this process as they synergistically interlinked industry and science for the first time in the 20th century. Engineers, especially electrical and chemical ones, became the elite of this technological development as they began to hold highly significant positions in diverse strategic institutions such as universities, technical colleges and scientific organizations, and on the corporate boards of private enterprises.

The holding of these skilled positions meant that a specific sort of knowledge achieved a privileged position in major industrial segments and decisively influenced the areas of corporate governance and planning of university research and undergraduate programs in technological fields, especially engineering. …

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