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The research agenda for this Laboratory aims at policy analysis, through multidisciplinary activities, namely in terms of science, technology and industry policy formulation and the need to secure sustainable development. The conditions for the social construction of technological systems in both developed and developing societies are addressed in terms of their impact on the emergence of new social realities, and their potential as factors of economic and social change and development on a global scale.
To achieve these goals, science and technology development case studies are developed worldwide, including in Portugal and Europe. The emphasis is on issues in which the interaction of technology, humans and institutions is of central importance to foster the quality of life. Enabling technologies will be developed and assessed under a systems view, comprising the use and environmental implications of materials, energy, and products in modern societies. The ultimate goals are:
Laboratory of Technology Policy and Management: 2011-2012
Theme 8: Science, higher education and policy
Research on “science, higher education and policy” has focused on broad and overlapping issues between science and technology systems and higher education systems (Heitor and Horta, 2012; Heitor, 2012). It has contributed to the knowledge pool in both literatures, providing informed evidence with a key practical relevance for emerging and developing regions worldwide (Heitor, Horta and Mendonça, 2012; Jung and Horta, 2012). We follow a systemic and thematic approach to our studies that are synergetic and feed into each other area (Heitor and Horta, 2012).
The systemic approach tends to analyze from a historical perspective the evolution of science and higher education systems and the roles of policies, resources, investment and reforms on the development of those systems. Current challenges facing those systems in developed and developing countries have been characterized and policy implications have beend discussed.
Thematic studies performed over the last years tend to focus on relatively understudied issues such as academic inbreeding (Horta, 2013), the teaching-research nexus (Horta, Dautel and Veloso, 2012), or knowledge sources, with a mix of methodologies (Horta and Lacy, 2011). The dialectic between these approaches leads to a rich analytical set that has a level of complexity meeting the growing complexity of knowledge systems, as well as the uncertain and complex conditions that societies in general are experiencing under globalized dynamics (Heitor and Horta, 2012).
Theme 9: Industrialization and innovation dynamics; technical change and entrepreneurship
The rational for this research theme on industrialization and innovation dynamics is driven by the observation that industrialization has been the main driver behind rapid productivity growth achievement and social well-being improvements in different countries in the last 200 years. However, the weight of manufacturing in the economy has been decreasing substantially in many countries and regions, and production has been concentrating in certain regions, while others have been increasingly loosing their productive ability, leading to changes in employment, and raising new concerns.
The research agenda has addressed issues associated with industrialization dynamics (and related desindustrialization risk), considering development patterns through technical change, integrating emerging science and technology capacity, the role of entrepreneurial activity and the creation of new firms and industries (Mendonca and Faria, 2012). In particular, the research work has focused on economic impacts of entrepreneurship in terms of employment generation and innovation (Baptista and Preto, 2011), as well as on the value of entrepreneurial human capital, exploring its linkages with firm performance and quality of job creation (Baptista, Lima and Preto, 2012). The role of the new technology based firms is acknowledged and its relationship with FDI, internationalization and knowledge creation has also been also explored, with emphasis on Portugal and on the basis of specific employment data sets.
A particular attention was considered for the study of biotechnology and related entrepreneurial activities, with emphasis on the analysis of emerging regulatory frameworks (Couto, Perez-Breva and Heitor, 2012). A new concept of technological adjacency for emergent therapies as been discussed, in terms of knowledge creating market strategies for small biotech start-ups (Couto, Perez-Breva and Heitor, 2012).
Theme 10: Risk Governance, science systems and the social appropriation of knowledge
The rational for research has been driven by the need to help facilitating the social appropriation of knowledge towards designing resilient cities. During 2012, the focus was on launching a team for innovative “hands on” approach based on the design of new engineering-based products and processes to help shape perceptions and peoples’ behavior.
Two areas of intervention were chosen in terms of risk mitigation, including energy consumption and non-communicable diseases (e.g., diabetes). The main goal is to assess risk perceptions of lay people belonging to vulnerable communities and, in the process, to examine strategies of risk communication towards these groups. While early studies on risk perception were based on “unilateral” expert views (i.e., “methods of expert elicitation”), it has become more and more clear that the involvement of lay people in the process is critical for risk governance (i.e., to ensure their participation). But, and despite these new trends, vulnerable groups remain an outlier category of this type of analysis (Pádua and Custodio, 2012).
The research team used the knowledge representation approach developed by Morgan (2002 ) to identify misconceptions of groups from different cultural backgrounds towards diabetes. In summary, a major initiative on learning for uncertainty in urban contexts was developed, including actions to look at risk perceptions, risk communication and stakeholder engagement of lay people from vulnerable communities. The Mouraria neighborhood, in Lisbon, has been used for preliminary fieldwork, which was focused on two distinct areas for risk mitigation, namely: i) non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes (Pádua, Santos, Horta and Heitor, 2013); and ii) patterns of consumer behavior in energy usage.
Our research hypothesis is associated with the idea of "indwelling", firstly introduced by Polanyi and recently explored by John Seely Brown in terms of understanding learning through processes of knowing, playing and making. We are attempting to provide new evidence on related learning processes through the distinct experiments mentioned above.
First, regarding non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, interviews with targeted communities reveal that many misunderstand the risks they face. Through our experiment, lay people has been encouraged to ride a "stand-alone" bicycle, facilitating physical exercise and making a smoothie (healthy fruit based drink) through the preparation of crushed fruit, yoghurt or milk. This begins a learning and revelatory process concerning adequate diet, exercise and successful ways of reducing their risk by having fun together. But, above all, it facilitates making people aware of diabetes risks and to introduce the debate on the topic among specific and target communities. Experiments were successfully conducted with the elderly and specific muslin groups (Pádua, 2012).
Second, consumer behaviors of energy usage in domestic and public spaces were assessed and monitored through the application of smart energy meters and the consequent attempt to design new products to help lay people to save energy and reduce their energy bill. Three different consumer typologies were assessed in residential properties, including two families in social housing and an apartment with Erasmus students. In addition, energy consumption in a “tasca” was monitored. In both examples, participants learn about energy flows, energy conservation, cost saving and reducing avoidable energy wastage.
Our experiments were conducted by mobilizing groups of university students in a way that also provided new insights into university learning methods. In addition to look at ways of lay people addressing risks, our results provide new insights into the modernization of university education though “hands-on” experimentation in vulnerable communities and the socialization of knowdgle and knowledge networks.
LABORATORY OF TECHNOLOGY POLICY AND MANAGEMENT
Brief Plan of Activities for 2013-2014
For 2013-2014 the research agenda for this Laboratory will emphasize four main themes: 1) knowldge for development; 2) Systems of knowledge creation and diffusion; 2) Technological change, industrial development and innovation; 3) Entrepreneurial behavior and new business development.
Theme 1 is aimed to foster the systematic observation and in-depth research of issues in science and technology, higher education and public policy in developed and developing regions worldwide. The ultimate goal is to create and promote a totally independent and credible international observatory of science, technology and higher education policies in a way to report, publicly and periodically, relevant information and early warnings on the state of policies and budgets at a country and regional level. It should foster an international perspective and convey new research and understanding of the impact of the current economic situation (mainly in Europe) on the “states of knowledge”, including science, technology and higher education capacity.
Theme 2 is centered on the relation between education, diffusion of scientific knowledge, and the risk awareness behaviors and attitudes of populations at large. The ultimate goal is to inform policy regarding the features that education and scientific awareness influences, and in what ways educational levels draw people to act when they are at risk. This has key relevance for science, education and health policies in ageing, modern societies.
Theme 3 focuses on industrialization and deindustrialization processes in both developing and developed regions of the world. It envisions the setting-up of a large task force for the “observation” of industrialization, to cover various aspects, including: i) The geography and dynamics of economic development and specialization – how scientific, technological and industrial bases evolve and impact socioeconomic development; ii) The structure, geography and dynamics of supply chains and knowledge networks in different sectors and markets; iii) The structure and availability of human resources and competences, as the basis for industrial activity; iv) Policy tools to foster local industrialization processes (e.g., public procurement, local production agreements, public expenditure in R&D and training) and; v) Deindustrialization processes, characterizing them and identifying, analyzing and governing related risks.
Theme 4 concentrates on entrepreneurial human capital and skills; occupational choice and transitions into – and out of – new founded firms; habitual entrepreneurship; founding teams; entrepreneurial activity among minority groups in society (e.g. immigrants, disabled and older individuals); social groups that are underrepresented in entrepreneurship (e.g. women); firm demography and industry dynamics; knowledge intensive and technology-based businesses; high-growth firms; job creation and regional development. Three ongoing research projects cover specific topics from theme 3, namely: “Occupational Exit and Firm Performance among Entrepreneurs and Top Managers”; “Minority Groups in Entrepreneurship” and “The Impact of Entrepreneurial Human Capital on Careers, Earnings and Hiring Decisions”.
The Laboratory benefits from a multidisciplinary team with backgrounds in economics, sociology, psychology, chemistry, physics, environmental, mechanic and industrial engineering and public policy. Through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, the activities of the research group will be developed in close collaboration with a broad set of international key partners, including the Carnegie Mellon University.
The expected results of the activities of the research group are twofold: firstly, the production and international diffusion of scientific research papers to be presented in top conferences and published in top academic journals; secondly, the production of policy and management reports and advice, and the diffusion of our findings to practitioners, policy makers and the community at large through open workshops and public presentations. The ultimate objective is to influence the formulation of higher education and technology policies, as well as policies aimed at supporting the development and growth of new businesses and industries.
Main Background Publications to support the proposed plan: