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Nonneutralities in Science Funding: Direction, Destabilization, and Distortion

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  • Butos William N.

    (Trinity College, Hartford, CT)

  • McQuade Thomas J.

    (Independent Scholar, San Diego, CA)

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    Abstract

    We treat science as a Hayekian social order whose distinctive emergent characteristic is the generation of knowledge. We model modern science as an institutional form that principally relies on publication with citation and its effects on individual reputation in order to study the possible effects of funding on science. We develop a taxonomy of three broad categories of effect: those having to do with the direction followed by scientific activity, those involving the operational and financial stability of both the physical institutions integral to scientific work and the scientists themselves, and those due to distortions of the basic knowledge-generating procedures of science. It is argued that, while directional effects of funding are ubiquitous, destabilizing and distorting effects are much more likely to emerge when funding sources are concentrated than when they are decentralized. Further, when funding is accompanied by regulatory oversight, the possibilities for distortion are significantly increased. Examples of such effects actually occurring under the current U.S. funding regime are discussed.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 18 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 (October)
    Pages: 1-28

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:18:y:2012:i:1:n:4

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