Government laboratories : institutional variety, change and design space

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  • This study examines Canadian federal government laboratories to betterunderstand their institutional variety, changes in their institutional form, and theirinstitutional design space. Three research questions are addressed: 1) h o w have theinstitutional forms of government laboratories been reconfigured during the period 1990-2005? 2) what are the laboratories' mandates and h o w do these reconfigurations affectthe labs' ability to fulfill their mandates? and 3) h o w might science policy analysis bettertake account ofthe importance, diversity and complexity of government laboratories?Three main arguments are advanced through the analysis of the evolution ofCanadian science policy and through case studies of three Environment Canadalaboratories. The first argument is that the traditional "make or buy" and related quasimarketlens on policy analysis related to government laboratories does not adequatelycapture the increasingly formal network-based approaches, both within the federalgovernment (intra-sector networks) and with other sectors (inter-sector networks), to thedelivery of government science. Accordingly, a broader "make, buy, or collaborate" mixof choices is called for.The second argument is that government laboratories as institutions exhibit aremarkable degree of diversity that is often not clearly reflected in Canadian sciencepolicy. Policy analysis suffers from a failure to:• understand the multiple (and potentially conflicting) mandates of governmentlaboratories;appreciate that formal policy-induced networks are not necessarily the same as theinformal networks that have long characterized scientific activity; and,recognize that formal networks and quasi-market approaches, while valuable andappropriate in many ways, can create problems for the labs in delivering theirdiverse mandates.The third argument is that policy and institutional analysis of governmentlaboratories requires an analytical approach that considers their core features ashierarchies, quasi-markets and networks in the context of their mandates, but that goesbeyond this basic framework to differentiate inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral networks andreveal the more complex "institutional design space" for government laboratories. Aspecific purpose of this study, therefore, is to develop a typology that can be useful ingathering more policy-relevant information about government laboratories and indesigning informed policies for the provision of government science.

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  • Copyright © 2010 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2010


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