Openness and barriers for societal engagement. Does usable research face higher obstacles within the academy?

2017 Annual Conference of the Eu-SPRI Forum: "The Future of STI - The Future of STI Policy", organized by the AIT Austrian lnstitute of Technology, Center for lnnovation Systems & Policy
The recognition of academic research as a potential source of economic growth and so-cial welfare has attracted the attention of both policy-makers and academics over the past decades. On one side, policy makers are interested in identifying and promoting the re-search that makes an impact on society. On the other side, academics are concerned with demonstrating the societal impact of their research as part of their societal license to practice and the public support for their activities. There may potentially be a tension be-tween these issues, such as the effects that this has for research governance and deci-sion-making where there is heavy-handed top-down attempts to more directly align indi-vidual research agendas with research policy priorities (Gläser, 2012; Hessels and Van Lente, 2008; Leisyte et al., 2008).
In this paper, we are concerned to understanding how policy-makers can help to guide researchers towards producing knowledge that benefits society but without imposing top-down research agendas. From our governance perspective, top-down steering can heav-ily skew the natural governance processes by which scientific communities collectively decide which research topics are the most valuable and worthy of immediate attention.
To address this question, we make a distinction between two factors that affect the socie-tal impact of academic knowledge, namely (a) the type of knowledge that is created (knowledge production) and (b) the researchers’ engagement with societal partners to move this knowledge outside academia (knowledge transfer).
Viena (Austria)
Paul Benneworth, Julia Olmos-Peñuela and Elena Castro-Martínez