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Bureaucratization in Academic Research Policy: What Causes It?

Barry Bozeman and Jiwon Jung

Annals of Science and Technology Policy, 2017, vol. 1, issue 2, 133-214

Abstract: Senior academic researchers and research administrators whose careers have spanned decades have witnessed a monotonic trend in the growth of bureaucratic rules and structures pertaining to research policy. The increase in administrative requirements takes many forms, some directly related to research and others tangentially related. While the onslaught of rules has increased administrative burdens, not all of these requirements are red tape; many are useful and even vital. But when taken together, the amount of administrative procedure and documentation associated with research conduct and administration becomes crushing. Others have well documented the bureaucratization of university research policy and administration. Our primary purpose is to explain why rules and regulations and the bureaucratic structures supporting them continue to grow, extracting an ever-greater toll on time and resources available for actual research. Absent an explanation of the growth of administrative burden, it is not possible to provide valid assessment of the effectiveness of rules and regulations pertaining to research policy. We examine the problem from the lens of a well-developed theory of organizational red tape specifically, applying it specifically to the problem of research administration red tape. The theory suggests that the increase in research policy bureaucratization can be explained chiefly by three different factors: crisis response, pressures for bureaucratic over-control, and the use of research policy for side-payments, both social side-payments (to achieve social goals not directly related to research) and political side-payments (conferring factor with political supporters by proving rules or policy symbols favored by them). To help elaborate the theory as well as to provide context, we provide case illustrations of ranging from the vitally important (research misconduct) to mundane bureaucratic requirements (standardization of required biosketches).

Keywords: Bureaucratization; Administrative burden; University research; Research policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L26 O32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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