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close this book Laying the foundation - The institution of knowledge in developing countries
close this folder Part II The institutionalization of science in Latin America
View the document Chapter 3 Institutional development of basic sciences
View the document Chapter 4 Institutional failure or success: variables affecting agricultural research
View the document Chapter 5 Institutional development of research in economics
View the document Chapter 6 Institutional development of educational research
View the document Chapter 7 Industrial research and development institutions in brazil

Part II The institutionalization of science in Latin America

Chapter 3 Institutional development of basic sciences

Hebe M.C. Vessuri

Over time, scientists and others in Latin America established splendid societies, museums, schools, institutes, foundations, research units, and specialized journals and publications. These institutions are critical to understanding the nature of science and its relationship to social, political, and economic life. They have had a powerful impact on urbanization, the communications revolution, and the growth of the state. They have also influenced the resources available for research from agricultural and industrial interests and from international cooperation.

Examining the growth of scientific and research institutions helps to identify important patterns in institution-building in Latin America. This chapter focuses on the basic or exact sciences (those in which advanced mathematics plays a central role) and the descriptive, experimental, or Baconian sciences such as geology and certain branches of biology (Kuhn 1977).

Although the basic sciences are driven less by ideology than other fields of knowledge, it is still possible to observe how a variety of schools, traditions of thought, and theoretical perspectives originating in some countries were transferred and adapted to the specific contexts of others. This has resulted in archaic forms of scientific research being practiced in some places and more modern forms in others.

Given that institutions are so intimately connected to their social context, it is difficult to transfer institutional models from country to country. An institution's success cannot be reduced to a simple formula.

Rather, each institution is a unique product of strategic adjustment between an ideal institutional model and the particular social dynamics of its context.

Although scientific institutions are composed of actual individuals occupying physical space, their real essence is contained in achievements of thought formulated and communicated as ideologies, roles, and institutional functions (Adler 1987). An institution is merely a vector for transmitting a collective understanding that has specific consequences. An institution's leaders provide direction by defining the beliefs, expectations, and objectives that determine problems and solutions.

Although an analysis of institutional development must take into account the unique economic and political constraints and opportunities of each context, it must also consider how institutions and ideological groups themselves stimulate the processes of scientific development, and how they constitute the necessary if not sufficient conditions for its success or failure.

Institutional agents in the basic sciences (mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry) have been known to convince policymakers that a research capacity could make a vital contribution to solving national problems related to public health, economic growth, or national security. In such cases, these agents used their scientific knowledge and expertise within a political framework and converted their work into national projects, thus helping to reduce unemployment and to achieve certain national goals in the process. Good examples include Oswaldo Cruz and the Instituto Manguinhos in Brazil, Monge Medrano and high-altitude biology in Peru, and Theodosius Dobzsansky and genetics in Brazil (Glick 1991).

Although enthusiasm for the study of science in Latin America is growing, knowledge of institutional traditions and intellectual habits is still quite limited. The existing literature looks at institutions mainly as landmarks for identifying socially significant forms on which to base more interpretative studies. This chapter provides a preliminary overview of the institutional characteristics in the basic sciences, the intellectual and organizational models used, and their main strengths and weaknesses. It is based on the premise that institutional development, although not the same as cognitive change, nonetheless reflects its changing patterns.

Over time, the basic sciences have been organized in the following institutional contexts: the university, the research institute dedicated solely to the production of scientific knowledge, the research institute devoted to supporting the requirements of the productive sector, the institution that has been adapted to scientific research, the science museum, the observatory, the scientific journal, and the scientific association.


The Institutional Development of Basic Sciences in Latin America

From colonial times, Latin America has played host to individual scientists - both European and indigenous - who developed schools of mathematics, navigation, chemistry, and astronomy in relative isolation. The institutionalization of the basic sciences came much later, beginning timidly in the 19th century and expanding only in recent years. The bulk of this chapter outlines the history of scientific institutionalization in Latin America, beginning with a discussion of the decisive role played by international cooperation in this process.

International cooperation has been critical to the development of Latin America's scientific infrastructure in this century. Although emphasis, goals, and approaches have varied over time and with the country and institutional groups concerned, three distinct stages can be identified.

The first stage, covering the period from 1900 until World War 11, was characterized by a strategy on the part of the industrialized countries to divulge science according to national molds. The goals of this strategy were cultural influence and competition, although the need to support science was accepted as an inherently international activity (for a good description of this period, see Schroeder-Gudehus 1977). In the years leading up to World War 11, international cooperation agencies were established in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States.

The second stage of international cooperation, organized through the United Nations, lasted from the end of World War 11 until the 1970s. During this period, the role of science in economic affairs became central to international relations. Scientific and technological hegemony were increasingly used to achieve dominance in the international system. The basic sciences acquired a new economic significance because of their contribution to new process technologies, and scientific knowledge was converted into intellectual capital (OECD 1980). Megaconferences on science and technology for development, the Group of 77, and the Trilateral Commission were all milestones in the evolution of international relations in the scientific field. As a result, science was controlled by private-sector institutions in industrialized nations, and access was only granted to countries willing to play by the rules of the game. These rules were set up to guarantee the economic domination of the centre over the periphery.

The third stage, which spans the 1980s, is characterized by a giant constellation of multilateral alliances involving scientists, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and multilateral corporations that have gained prominence in the context of a widening knowledge gap between North and South. It became clear during this decade that systems for financing science and technology through international cooperation were unrealistic. They are now being replaced by a growing interest in various forms of multilateral cooperation. In the meantime, bilateral cooperation is expanding more rapidly than multilateral cooperation, and the giant alliances of institutions scattered around the world are frequently unconnected to the initiatives of intergovernmental organizations (Standke 1989).

Nevertheless, scientific development still seems to have lost urgency on the North-South agenda. Most developing countries are not using their limited funds for long-term scientific development, although some, such as China and Brazil, have received large loans from the World Bank for science and technology projects. The gap continues to widen, not only between North and South but also between developing countries, between regions, and even within regions. Whereas there is a mounting pressure in all industrialized countries to increase spending on research and development, this is not occurring in Latin America. Although modest success has been achieved in some of the larger Latin American countries (Standke 1989), recent progress has been threatened, or completely halted.

Despite the advances made, one is hard pressed to say that there is much social space for science in Latin America. A clear role for science has yet to be defined, accepted, and institutionalized within society A brief historical summary of the institutionalization of the basic sciences shows how precarious, fragmented, and isolated achievements have been.

The formative period, from 1890 to 1930, is associated with relatively isolated attempts to build scientific research institutions such as museums, observatories, agronomy research centres, and medical schools. Public universities, set up as independent schools in the French manner, provided an institutional focus for the basic sciences, which continued into later periods. Scientific research in Latin America was mainly carried out in public universities because there have been no real research universities. Research was conducted by small groups centred around certain outstanding scientific figures, but continuity and diversification were jeopardized by political instability and lack of social demand.

Over time, research was integrated into the university system through merit schemes and advancement based on public examinations and theses. The increasingly bureaucratized system created good conditions for individual research in some instances, but, in general, a tradition of professional research was not developed. The lack of well-equipped laboratories and libraries as well as shortage of research monies drove scientists to seek private funding to cover their personal expenses. The lack of funds restricted contact with more developed scientific centres, and university research became the province of a small elite.

Some scientific research institutes allied themselves with the technical laboratories associated with schools of engineering and medicine, particularly the latter. Some medical schools spawned teaching hospitals and high-level research groups during the early part of the century. But because basic research still took second place to the teaching of medicine and clinical practice, research was unable to expand beyond certain limits.

Argentina was the first country in Latin America to institutionalize the basic sciences. With a highly educated population in 1950 (27.8% of its economically active population fell into this category), the problem was not in finding suitable scientific researchers but in retaining them. Low salaries, continuous economic instability, and political repression were all factors that drove many scientists and engineers out of the country in recent decades. They also deterred many young people from choosing scientific occupations. Two of the most important institutions in the basic sciences at this time were the School of Exact Physical and Natural Sciences of Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Scientific Sciences of Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

The period from 1930 to 1960, or the second stage of development, can be described as one in which there was a search for new institutional models and a rise in private-sector initiatives. Argentina maintained its position as Latin American leader in the basic sciences until the middle of the century when it began a gradual decline. In contrast, this period marked the beginning of institutional consolidation in the basic sciences for many other countries in Latin America. In Brazil, the Universidade de Sao Paulo was the first institution created with the goal of supporting research and training a new generation using an innovative form of higher education.

The basic sciences in Mexico are closely associated with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) and its School of Sciences, which was founded in 1938. In 1941, the university changed its structure and divided its courses of study into two cycles: professional studies (the master's level) and higher studies (the doctoral level). The latter was designed to train scientific researchers by immersing them in scientific culture. Those~graduating with doctoral degrees were given preference for research posts in the university's institutes. However, because the research budget was so small, the university provided the buildings but expected scientists to find the means to carry out their work.

During the third stage, from 1958 to 1980, numerous schools of science sprang up in new universities as ambitious attempts were made to reform traditional structures and to make scientific and technological research more central to socioeconomic planning. Outside the university, independent centres engaged in basic and applied research received strong support from both the public and private sectors. This period was also characterized by organized international cooperation.

Although universities in Latin America created modern systems of knowledge production in the context of rapidly expanding higher education, the schools dealing with the basic sciences did not grow very quickly. They accounted for a relatively low proportion of total university enrolment, rarely exceeding 5%. (The exception was computer science, although even here there was greater interest in the more applied aspects than in the science of computing.)

Paradoxically, scientists played an active and influential role in the transformation of university life during this period, especially during the 1960s. They argued that scientific education should be conducted within the framework of a national strategy for scientific and technological development and that science should play a more central role in the expansion of higher education. They attempted to change the traditional university structure by making scientific research the focus of university life. They also pressed for the institutionalization of the university's internal mechanisms for encouraging research. Their revolutionary proposals called for changes in the power structure, and the imposition of rigorous research requirements on teaching staff and students alike. They also insisted that greater emphasis be placed on research than professional achievement in the evaluation of universities, departments, research groups, and courses within the higher education system. However, university authority figures, who were not inclined to change their thinking quickly, frustrated efforts to renew university life through political action.

In the 1960s, the School of Sciences of the Universidad de Buenos Aires was the focus of an active effort to change the university's system by setting high scientific standards and encouraging intensive participation in politics. The leaders of this movement came into conflict with the military regime in 1966; most resigned and later left the country (Slemenson 1979; Vessuri 1983). The Universidade de Brasilia, set up in the early 1960s as a brave experiment in implementing extensive changes to university life, suffered a similar fate in a series of confrontations with the country's military regime. The experiment failed. In Venezuela, the impetus for a renewal movement came from young teaching staff and students in the School of Sciences at Universidad Central and spread throughout the university. The government responded by temporarily closing the university and setting up experimental public universities. The best known of these is Universidad Simon Bolivar, which emphasizes technical and scientific skills over political commitment.

We can distinguish two distinct phases in institutional development: one before renewal, which saw institutional experiments in the public sector and modern units emerge within more traditional institutions, and one after renewal, which saw attempts made to design new institutions to replace the traditional public universities as centres of science and technology.

The story of the School of Sciences at the Universidad Central de Venezuela is typical of university evolution during the first of these phases. The school was established in 1958 with the express purpose of producing scientists and research, both considered necessary for the country's economic development (Vessuri 1987). However, the school produced little research during its early years. Even now, although the School of Sciences is considered one of the most productive in the university, only a small minority of its academic staff actually conduct research. Nevertheless, the rules defining programs of study were dictated by international structures and legitimized by disciplinary organizations and international educational agencies such as the International Council for Scientific Unions (ICSU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). The school has made a notable contribution to training scientists and regularly reviewing curricula; assisting in the establishment of other academic and research institutions; as well as helping to develop the scientific disciplines in Venezuela and finding solutions to national problems.

One example of rapid institutional growth is Brazil. In just a few short years, Brazil has succeeded in building the strongest research capacity in Latin America, second only to India among the developing countries (Schwartzman 1985, pp. 110-111). The expansion in the 1960s was a wide-ranging drive on the part of the Brazilian government to link scientific development more closely with economic development. What was unusual was that the resources for scientific and technological research came from government sectors responsible for economic planning and investment. As a result, research funds were large in comparison to research capacity, and efficiency and productivity were frequently measured by evaluations of research activity.

Brazil's efforts, many of which coincided with comprehensive changes in its higher education system, have not yet been fully evaluated. The North American model - centralized institutes and departmental organization - was enshrined in Brazil's Education Law in 1968. Graduate instruction became a regular component of university programs and full-time employment opportunities for university teaching staff increased. At the same time, requirements for university entry were lowered, and a parallel system of private schools was introduced to compensate for the limited number of places available within public universities. In short, the system of higher education became larger, more differentiated, and more stratified. At the same time, frustration was growing among the student body and teaching staff because the new research programs were not well adapted to the new institutional climate.

There were also interesting institutional developments in the postrenewal period such as the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil, Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, and Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico. The goal here was to establish modern scientific and technological institutions that would be less influenced by the politics that had so often paralyzed traditional public universities.

Despite the difficulty transforming the public university, scientific ideology, which had been traditionally restricted to very small circles, was extended to sectors outside the university. This helped to secure government support for incipient scientific communities in many countries in the region, usually through national councils for science and technology. Although these new programs were often set up as university departments of science and technology, they had a high degree of autonomy and control over their own administration and research funding.

At this time, new and smaller universities designed for research, such as UNICAMP, were springing up beside the traditional universities; and academic research institutes, such as the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), were set up outside the university system. In existence for 32 years, IVIC's rigorous approach to international calibre scientific research has made it one of the region's most successful institutions. Although conclusive study of IVIC has yet to be undertaken, Freites (1984) and Vessuri (1984) have made initial assessments.

After the frustration of the renewal movement in the 1970s, the groups emerging to take advantage of increased resources for scientific and technical research tended to be young and apolitical. These salaried researchers generally worked in isolated and protected locations within universities on externally funded projects and had no teaching duties (Schwartzman 1985).

The period from 1980 to 1991 was marked by a crisis in the basic sciences in Latin America and a corresponding crisis in the university institutional model. The institutional development initiatives of this period were characterized by the creation of isolated and protected niches for scientific research.

Rapidly expanding enrolment and rising costs led to a deterioration in the traditional universities, which had historically housed most research institutes. The staff complement grew so quickly in response to increasing enrolment that the quality of teaching was compromised. Recent studies in Brazil point to serious bottlenecks and low productivity in many areas that threaten to undermine the scientific base of research and development.

Low levels of remuneration also encouraged union militancy on the part of university staff, a large group mostly engaged in teaching. Fulltime positions once held exclusively by scientific researchers were taken up by individuals with no scientific background (Brunner 1990). In the absence of industry demand, these factors made the universities less attractive as centres for research. Many scientists and engineers started to organize their work outside the universities or around isolated graduate programs (Lomnitz 1979).

Graduate programs in Latin America have been characterized by high failure rates, diverse objectives, and unreliable quality; therefore, students continue to be sent abroad when funds and opportunities are available. Brazil and Mexico have had the most success developing graduate level education in the region. In Brazil and Chile, the basic sciences and technologies account for roughly half of all enrolment at the graduate level; in Mexico and other countries, however, enrolment tends to be concentrated in social sciences and administration programs. Doctoral programs in the region are still rare and not very productive.

Unfortunately, efforts to modernize the university seem unlikely to be successful. Very few institutions are dedicated to conducting scientific research and to training new research staff. This does not mean, however, that research at public universities should be ignored. In the case of Brazil, Schwartzman (1986) recommends that efforts would be better spent in consolidating and improving university research despite its limitations than in setting up specialized research institutes or state enterprises less conducive to intellectual initiative, imagination, and discipline.

However, despite the many challenges and frustrations of the last 10 years, there has been an attempt to create isolated and protected niches for basic research within and outside the university. This trend has become more pronounced with the recent changes in society's perception of private institutions engaged in higher education and research. Nonetheless, it has been difficult for institutions to remain isolated and protected. As systems of higher education became more differentiated, scientists working in isolation became more obvious targets of attack. The rapid growth of scientific institutions outside academia has produced many research institutions that could not survive in a demanding scientific climate.

Part of the increasing pressure on the scientific establishment has come from a lack of resources to support growth. In Brazil and Mexico for example, the number of scientific groups and institutions multiplied rapidly while funds were available, but the economic crisis of the mid-1970s brought this expansion to a sudden stop. Other countries suffered a similar fate. Increasing demand and diminishing resources intensified the competition for funds both inside scientific institutions and between science and other sectors. At the same time, the end of many authoritarian regimes helped to improve the political climate. With conditions once again beginning to favour political participation, contradictory pressures were exerted on universities. Given that researchers hold little power within the university structure and budget decisions tend to be influenced by short-term political considerations, the distribution of resources was generally not favourable to them.

The community of scientific researchers faces a difficult dilemma. One the one hand, scientists seek greater freedom to research and less interference from bureaucrats, university officials, and planning authorities. On the other, their survival as a group depends on increasing their visibility and presence within national decision-making bodies. Strangely, and despite claims to the contrary, most scientists have supported a national system for scientific planning, even at the cost of greater bureaucracy, reduced priority given to basic research, and their exclusion from the decision-making process. They may anticipate being asked to head up the planning agencies and believe there is something inherently good in centralized planning and coordination.


The Basic Sciences Today

The relevance of science was increasingly questioned in the face of Latin America's serious problems during the 1980s. Government cutbacks in financial support for science seriously affected graduate and undergraduate education. To counter the serious risk of a massive brain drain, many countries took steps to improve the situation.

In 1984, the Mexican government created an elite program in science and technology called the National Researchers System (SNI). Its three main objectives were to preserve the nucleus of the national stock of researchers, to upgrade their skills and productivity, and to promote participation and self-evaluation in the scientific community. A key decision was made to limit participation in SNI to highly productive researchers whose work was deemed to be top quality by a peer-review process (Malo and Garza 1987; Malo 1988). The program provides a salary supplement for each category of researcher within the system. The number of researchers in the system grew from 1 395 in 1984 to 3 495 in 1987, at which point the numbers began to level off.

In 1990, Venezuela introduced the Researcher Promotion Program, an official scheme to support scientific research along the lines of the Mexican system. When the first invitations were issued, 744 researchers were accepted into the program. A further 193 were admitted in 1991, lounging total active members up to 937 (Gonzalez 1991). Up to now, the program has offered a salary supplement that is enough to compensate for low salaries but not enough to pay for research equipment or inputs. The goal of a joint project of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnologicas (CONICIT) in Venezuela is to develop strategic areas in new technologies. It is expected to revive research, development, and higher education in Venezuela.

In Argentina, the basic sciences are part of an old scientific tradition. Although they have achieved substantial development in institutional terms, they are currently showing signs of stagnation and imbalance, and there is a marked weakness in human resources in the areas of technology and engineering. In Brazil, certain basic research institutions have stayed independent of potential technological demand. Physics, for example, has launched important projects, such as the Sincroton Light Laboratory in Campinas. By contrast, areas more closely related to technology, such as biotechnology or microelectronics, have found that their projects have not afforded them a solid identity According to Botelho (1990), scientific development in the 1990s is flexible, decentralized, and asymmetrical between regions and disciplines. Universities have difficulty in becoming the privileged partners of other institutions. Under the Science and Technology Secretariat, government research institutes will have more international contact. Technological development will become more scientific, and associated specialist enterprises will be responsible for technological development.

Almost all small and medium-sized countries are experiencing an alarming reduction in the number of graduates in the basic sciences. This is all the more worrying given that many new universities do not even offer courses in the basic sciences. Costa Rica is a case in point, with respect to mathematics (Garcia Bondia 1987). The relatively high numbers of graduates registered in the 1970s can be attributed to the expansion of the educational system at a time when great confidence was placed in investing in human capital. This climate of optimism gave way to the disappointment and short-term thinking of the 1980s. Currently, a pragmatic approach seems to prevail with a corresponding emphasis on programs that can be easily applied and profitable.

Although it is clear that more research is being conducted in Latin America today than 50 years ago, science has still not been fully institutionalized; it continues to be held back by an unfavourable climate. Most students express a clear preference for professional careers other than science and technology. In 1970, only 5% of university graduates came from schools of pure and natural sciences, 14% came from engineering schools, 17% came from medical sciences, and 4% came from agricultural sciences. By 1978, these proportions had not changed appreciably (Sagasti and Cook 1983). In fact, the number of students graduating with a degree in the basic sciences had fallen, and this diminished level of interest persists today. The difficulties in encouraging scientific vocations are reflected in Table 1. This situation is worsened by poor conditions for bringing professional scientists into national research and development systems. Therefore, science graduates with an aptitude for research tend to emigrate in search of better career opportunities.

Table 1. Undergraduate students (%) by sector in 1980 and 1984.

In conclusion, a radical change in the perception of the value of scientific research has taken place recently within scientific communities. Although this change is just beginning in many places, it appears strong enough to herald major changes in the organizational patterns of institutions in the years to come.


An Agenda for Future Studies

Much effort has been expended on building a scientific infrastructure in Latin America over the few last decades. At the same time, attempts to transform universities and to create protected niches for high-quality research have met with mixed success. The purpose of this brief outline is to pose questions rather than answer them. The methodological approach adopted here - that is, looking at the role of basic science research along with other essential institutional activities and comparing the unique combination of activities found in specific institutions - was used to paint a richer and more accurate picture of institutional development in the basic sciences in Latin America.

Scientific institutions in Latin America are quite heterogeneous. Some are devoted to undergraduate education, others to graduate level education, and yet others exclusively to research. Institutional contexts and connections also differ widely: some organizations are government centres, some are university units, and some are private foundations. Still others take the form of corporate divisions or interest groups. Another difference to be considered is the source of external research funding. Institutions can be supported by national governments, philanthropic foundations, private corporations, and international agencies.

This diversity occurs because institutions have different situations, histories, and future aspirations. In particular, the interaction within subsystems will be shaped by the institution's mission along the basic sciences continuum (whether it deals with pure or applied sciences) and within the scientific and technological process. The subset of institutions analyzed here - some of the most important institutions of the basic sciences - may have comparatively similar views of graduate education and research, but differ considerably in other respects. This leads to a wide variety of institutional structures.

The institutionalization of a scientific discipline requires both cognitive identity and professional identity. In Latin America, the universities provide the context for professional identity. The existence of opportunities and rewards linked to a career gave real meaning to the ability to perform intellectual work within a discipline. Prizes, research subsidies, specially equipped units, prestigious appointments, and honorary titles have all been accepted as expressions of professional identity within a field of knowledge. As this system developed, scientific enterprise penetrated to deeper levels, changing the image of the discipline and its social and cultural function. Therefore, although it is analytically useful to distinguish between the development of cognitive and professional identities, the two are inexplicably linked in the day-to-day work of any area of knowledge that has been fully institutionalized.

The achievement of identity is not inevitable; it is the product of personal struggles and historical accident. The building of a discipline, especially in the early stages, is frequently the outcome of heroic personal effort by one individual or by a small group. Therefore, a discipline's local cognitive identity is profoundly influenced by the personal vision of its pioneers. Through a subtle process, the tools, approaches, and problems that characterize a field in the process of local institutionalization, are shaped by the moral purposes, metaphysical assumptions, and world views held by the pioneers. Therefore, a discipline's central problems and conceptual and analytical techniques are molded by the individual or small group who built it. The growth and ultimate significance of a discipline depends on the clarity of vision that defined the original intellectual agenda.

If these leading personalities, or pioneers, also succeed in creating jobs for their disciples, they have even greater influence on the professional and cognitive identity of the new discipline. A professional identity is not guaranteed by the formation of a scientific society or public propaganda, however needed they may be. It is also necessary to recruit followers and students and to create satisfactory career structures. These requirements depend on structural changes in society as a whole and cannot be invented or improvised by social engineering.

There has been more continuity in the process of institution building in Latin America than advocates of modernization are willing to admit. Given how hard it was to find teaching staff at the beginning, many scientific institutions resorted to hiring European immigrants, mostly from Spain and Italy. Although they were not capable of doing research, some still made an invaluable contribution to the transition toward modern scientific education. At the same time, fellowship programs were developed to train younger graduate students. The ideal of internationally accredited doctoral programs spread rapidly in the postwar period, especially in the new schools of science. The leadership of Latin American scientists in managing new and complex institutions remains to be seen.

The conditions of teaching staff contracts posed another problem. Two of the most important achievements of scientific research in the university included full-time employment for research staff and the introduction of the promotion thesis as a means of advancement in a university career. However, as these achievements of the researchers became generalized for all teaching staff, they became a collective trend for a new and rapidly growing group, that of the university professor, and did not necessarily respond to the real needs of research.

In practice, there is a definite lack of congruence between the purpose of research - the generation and dissemination of knowledge - and the structure of teaching. Although many may disagree, the two activities have developed without reference to each other, and each obstructs the other both legally and structurally. Following Humboldt's idea of reciprocal enrichment between teaching and research, the modernization program has served as an extraordinary stimulus to scientific advancement in academia for 150 years. However, not all university lecturers today are researchers, nor does all teaching activity involve research. Not all basic research is conducted with a view to publishing the results. Furthermore, undergraduate programs that are not updated quickly enough pose an obstacle to the incorporation of new knowledge generated by the international environment.

However, university research units such as institutes and centres tend not to be involved in undergraduate teaching, which is normally the responsibility of departments, lecturers, and teaching units. Given the critical situation of basic science research, however, it would seem advantageous for research centres to focus their efforts on developing graduate courses and further enhancing their capacity to train doctoral candidates and other teachers or researchers.

We can see from the discussion that the institutionalization of science is not an easy task. It relies on a favourable cultural and intellectual climate. It also requires a material infrastructure as well as a system comprised of journals, evaluation committees, and scholarly societies that helps to maintain the standards of scientific specialties. Basic scientists can become alienated from societies that question the social relevance of their discipline. When scientists have their discipline as their point of reference, they can see that research efforts in their countries are scattered among a few underfunded and underequipped centres or laboratories that produce only second-rate research, whether in the universities or in government institutions. As a result, researchers may shut themselves away in the bunker of their institution, which is alien to the local context, and depend for their survival on distant intellectual centres.

Latin American scientists work on the same subjects as the best university researchers in industrialized countries, but under far more challenging social and economic conditions. The region's dominant ideology holds that basic sciences are superior to the applied sciences and are thus more prestigious and attractive. It is not surprising that the small centres devoted to the basic sciences are surrounded by an aura of mystery and elitism. But institutions are often only a superficial reflection of the models they copy. In reality, researchers in Latin America frequently lack social, economic, or intellectual protection; they also lack libraries and research equipment as well as strict standards and norms. The overall lack of favourable conditions has led to a massive exodus of scientific talent over several decades and low productivity among many remaining scientists.

Scientific institutions also provide the breeding ground for the region's scientific development. Therefore, if we are to define an agenda, we must go beyond particular institutional characteristics to explore the relationship between scientific institutions and overall research and development policy. The sweeping changes now occurring in productive structures and in the international economy will have a direct and indirect impact on the region's scientific institutions.

The challenges are many. In the first place there is a need to rethink the relationship between pure and applied research, a task ignored by most traditional scientific institutions. Scientific institutions in Latin America must develop close links with the productive sector to attain legitimacy. However, the institutional environment tends to perpetuate conduct that does not meet new needs. For example, publishing in scientific journals is still considered critical to the advancement of scientific careers, while industrialized countries are reducing the number of journals significantly because of new restrictions on the dissemination of ideas.

In areas where research is more developed, publishing is no longer seen as necessary for the legitimation of research results. However, in Latin America, which lacks definitive standards of quality, publication in professional journals is still considered critical to scientific careers. As new opportunities arise for strategic segments where quality exists, Latin American scientists will be able to interact with partners in government and in industry, in technical and economic coalitions, in which the new scientific knowledge will be of crucial importance.

One issue requiring further study is the underestimation of the costs attributed to research and consultancy services provided by scientists and scientific institutions. Another is the management of interface mechanisms between a research centre and its industrial clients. Even if we uncritically accept the current system of research, technology, economics, and management, industry's lack of independence and the weakness of many scientific institutions makes close collaboration between the two sectors an unlikely solution for current production difficulties in Latin America.

It is imperative to identify forms of collaboration that respond to Latin American realities in both the productive and academic sectors. The current inability to mobilize funds and promote their rational and efficient use threatens the survival of the existing research and development system. To face the new challenges, scientific institutions must have a high degree of autonomy in setting goals and in determining how to attain them. In particular, they must develop research strategies based on a continuing analysis of scientific, technological, and industrial trends. Institutions can no longer function if they do not monitor developments in other sectors. They must explore and, if possible, anticipate the intellectual market in search of research and development niches that they can actively turn to their advantage. This in turn requires the maintenance of academic excellence. National centres of excellence play catalytic roles. In Hobday's (1985) study of the Brazilian telecommunications industry, for example, the research and development department of TELEBRAS seems to have played exactly that role.

As we have seen, basic research in the region is confined to a limited group of universities and public research institutions. In some countries only one or two universities have any kind of research infrastructure. Even in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico that have scientific communities, only a few institutions are influential in scientific and technical production. However, the fact that the research and development effort is concentrated in this way makes it easier to mount an aggressive program.

In any case, studies are needed to identify the type of units that, under similar academic conditions, show greater potential for developing their own strategies and those of the society in which they work. It is neither possible nor desirable that all research and development functions be conducted by scientific research institutions, but critical combinations of functions must occur in at least some of them. This will ensure diversification and integration, characteristics needed to maintain adaptability and dynamism.

A review of earlier analyses and their recommendations highlights several positive elements that should be strengthened. For example, progress has been made in the formation of some disciplinary networks. The Latin American Network for Biological Sciences (RELAB), which began in 1975 as a graduate project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is a good example. Its organizational structure has evolved. Today, it is highly representative of the biological sciences in the region. Other programs, such as the Latin American Centre for Physics, support the strengthening of regional programs for graduate instruction and research in venous basic disciplines.

Permanent cooperation between groups from different countries engaged in similar research is taking root with the support of bilateral and multilateral agreements between national science and technology councils and the Spanish program for the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Americas. However, these actions need to be sustained and expanded to have significant impact.

The fragile scientific communities formed in many Latin American countries in recent years may prove unable to redefine their roles and may fall victim both to diminishing resources and growing pressure for immediate achievements. But a renewed appreciation of the value of research may provide breathing room, at least in some areas and for some countries.

No country in Latin America will be able to face the technological challenges of the future alone. The objectives of scientific development in the region must be reconsidered in light of the last 40 years of progress, new international challenges, changing societal demands, persistent heterogeneity in production, and severe funding shortages. Institutions will need to take on specific functions to bring about the changes required. It is therefore necessary to discuss the university's mission in relation to the basic sciences and the research and development system and find ways to transform it into an efficient instrument for the production of useful talent and knowledge.



Chapter 4 Institutional failure or success: variables affecting agricultural research

Jorge Ardila

The need for agricultural technology usually originates in the intermediate stages of a country's development and normally results from a policy decision. Initially, the research infrastructure tends to be a virtual state monopoly. As countries progress, the private sector begins to generate important research that complements state-supported work. This research is usually done in anticipation of economic gain and tends to be concentrated in industries that produce raw materials such as hybrid seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural machinery, and processing technologies. In later stages of development, the strategic importance of technology to development starts to be recognized, and public policy becomes more coherent.


Agricultural Research in Latin America

The development of agricultural research in Latin America can be divided into three stages. In the first stage, from 1940 to 1949, agricultural research was organized as a public service. Motivated by agricultural developments in Europe, some Latin American governments (notably Colombia and Uruguay) made formal requests to Austria, Belgium, England, France, and Germany for assistance in laying the groundwork for agricultural research.

This first stage of cooperation featured attempts to import and adapt foreign species. Although some experimentation was done, especially with fertilizers and pesticides, most countries did not have the capacity to innovate. During this period, political decision-makers demonstrated great interest in research as a way to boost agricultural production, but private research remained minimal. At the international level, the organized research system we know today did not exist.

The second stage of development, from 1950 to 1970, was characterized by external support for state research at the national level. In June 1949, inspired by the success of the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction after World War 11, the United States established the Point IV program to transfer technology and expertise in an effort to alleviate the food production crisis in many developing countries (Carter and Harold 1985). American universities belonging to the land-grant system provided agricultural extension services and in-house training. During the 1960s, 3 026 Latin American professionals were granted doctorates in agrarian sciences from universities in the United States, enabling most Latin American countries to consolidate the state research structures they have today.

Table 1 shows the importance of this program of technical cooperation and graduate training for Argentina, Peru, and Colombia. A total of 498 researchers were trained at the master's and doctoral levels, at an approximate cost of 34 million United States dollars (USD).

Table 1. Number of graduate-level (MSc and PhD) researchers from 1960 to 1978 in the National Institute of Farming Technology (INTA), the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute (ICA), and the Universidad Agraria La Molina (UAM).

Institution and country

Personnel trained

Cost (million USD)








INTA, Argentina







ICA, Colombia







UAM, Peru














Note: If costs for Peru averaged the same as for Colombia, the total investment would have been 8.2 million United States dollars (USD), of which the Peruvian government contributed 6.3%. Note that contributions vary greatly from one country to another.

Source Ardila et al (1980).

During this golden age of the system, research made a major contribution to the region's economic and agricultural development. Research institutions flourished and enjoyed strong government support. Investment in research yielded positive returns, with high rates of social profitability, as measured by the economic surplus generated, and its distribution among customers and producers. Regional investment in agricultural research rose 9.5% in constant terms during the 1960s, compared with a world average of 9.1% (Boyce and Evenson 1975).

During this phase, the private sector made some interesting ventures into the field of research. The establishment of the Centre for Coffee Research (CENICAFE) by Colombia's coffee-growers in 1938 is one example (Samper Genecco 1992). However, large-scale efforts in the private sector were rare, probably because public-sector research programs satisfied the needs of the productive sector Also in many countries, the agricultural sector was simply not large enough to support long-term research.

The third stage, from 1970 to 1990, witnessed the decline of the state model and a crisis in agricultural research brought about by institutional, economic, social, and political changes, both domestically and internationally There was an urgent need to transform the research model to meet new demands, to face a new economic order, and to adjust to the reduced level of resources available.

A system of international research centres emerged during the late 1960s. It grew out of the experiences of England and France with tropical crops in their colonies as well as those of the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s. The system was composed of bilateral and multilateral assistance agencies and private foundations in developed countries, under the umbrella of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and its Technical Assistance Committee (Samper Genecco 1992).

This new research system was part of a strategy to channel international cooperation more efficiently. Efforts at institution-building had failed in many countries, and early successes were losing their effectiveness. Although the international centres were intended to complement the national systems, they were initially seen as competitors or replace meets. This led to a reduction in resources for important national research programs.

At the same time, the private sector, represented by interest groups, associations, and federations of producers, became more actively engaged in research. It did so partly to compensate for the weakened state of public institutions and partly to meet the demand for new technologies in which the public sector had no direct interest because they were felt to be designed primarily for private benefit.

These two main groupings - the international centres and the private sector - although contributing to the enrichment of research, also served to lessen and even displace state involvement in the production of technology. This effectively reduced the state's potential to socialize the benefits of technological change in the interests of greater equity.

Furthermore, the international agencies and the private sector offered more professional opportunities for researchers trained by the public sector, normally at much higher salaries than those paid by the state. Consequently, researchers left the public sector in droves. In addition, much of the international technical cooperation of the 1960s relied on resident American researchers. The end of this practice further complicated the staffing of state research institutes and threatened a specialist shortage.

The threat was temporarily averted by the establishment of graduate programs in agriculture in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. When these programs were subsequently dropped, specialists were sent abroad to be trained once again. This time fewer funds were available, and most of the training opportunities under previous technical cooperation agreements had disappeared. The new programs arranged with foreign governments or with foreign loans never matched the former level of training activity. In some countries, the new graduate programs in public research institutes barely managed to replace the specialists who had left for other organizations.

This led to a drastic reduction in graduate specialists working in most public institutions. Brazil was the exception because it had never stopped training specialists through the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization (EMBRAPA). Other consequences included a slowdown in the production of innovations and increased training costs, which exerted even greater pressure on already tight budgets. With the lowering of public-sector salaries, research institutes were forced to replace outgoing researchers with nonspecialist staff, which reduced their chances of producing high-quality innovations and further contributed to their loss of social recognition.

In addition to this human resource crisis in the public sector, budgets were drastically cut by government in an effort to reduce fiscal deficits. For example, in Colombia in 1990, research staff of the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute (ICA) received only half the amount for equipment and materials that they had received in 1970. If, in 1970, operating costs comprised 30% of expenses, in real terms, then a 15% budget reduction amounted to a 50% reduction in operating capacity (ICA 1990).

The state research infrastructure is suffering seriously from underinvestment. As a result, the national expenditure needed to restore the system to its former level of functioning is likely to be substantially less than the economic benefit lost because of the lack of technological change in agriculture.

In addition to these institutional factors, several economic considerations deserve mention. The energy crisis of the 1970s raised the cost of producing goods that required imported inputs derived from oil and rendered much technology obsolete. The national research institutes (NRls) in Latin America continued to develop technological systems based on modern inputs and to produce costly capital-intensive technology to improve physical yields.

These economic variables accompanied major changes in worldwide patterns of consumption. Increased urbanization and personal incomes generated a demand for new and improved products and for research to develop them. The demand for research was further intensified by the liberalization of Latin American economies and the need to boost the international competitiveness of local production. Economic liberalization put pressure on the NRls to expand their range of research subjects and regions; it also focused research on raising the export-earning potential of products. This expansion has further reduced the operating capacity of the national institutes.

Fundamental quantitative and qualitative changes are currently taking place in the demand for agricultural technology. The new trend has serious implications for the entire research system, affecting the topics selected for study, as well as the equipment and specialists required. The research system faces the new demand that agricultural development be sustainable over the long term. Bottlenecks created by earlier research and the occupation of new land must be removed. Problems such as soil erosion, compaction, and salinity as well as the pressing need to replace pesticides rendered ineffective by resistance must be solved. Because the private sector has no direct interest in financing this basic research, it must be supported by weakened public institutions.

Latin America is currently engaged in the political process of decentralization and democratization designed to achieve greater efficiency in the use of public resources and a more equitable distribution of services. This will require moving resources from research to support technical assistance and technology transfer at the farm level.

Although renewed private-sector interest has resulted in some notable successes, it is still the public-sector NRIs that have made the most significant contribution to agricultural research. Their deterioration may result in slower economic growth and a restricted contribution to increased agricultural productivity. The scarcity of research resources, the decline in quality, and the new demand for technology have combined to reduce technology's contribution to regional growth in the last 10 years, and threaten to lead to technological stagnation.

These factors have had a negative impact on the region's capacity to produce needed technological change in the field of agriculture. With the institutional model in decline, Latin America has an additional disadvantage in that recent progress in biotechnology and genetic engineering may be widening the technology gap between the region and the industrialized countries.


Characteristics of Agricultural Research Institutes in Latin America

This section offers a preliminary review of the diversity of institutions in agricultural research in Latin America, with some comments on their interaction from three points of view: the economic nature of technology; the level of participation of technology in stages and processes of agricultural research; and the level of coverage of the organization's objectives and user satisfaction.

Institutions have many kinds of relationships with each other. Sometimes the decline of one institution is accompanied by the rise of another (substitution), and sometimes the success of one depends on the success of the other (complementarily). Institutions may also compete with each other for resources, or over research products.

Institutional transformation in agricultural research may be attributed to such factors as the benefits to users; political changes, normally associated with an attempt to improve bureaucratic efficiency; and major changes in the availability and price of resources required for production (Ruttan 1982). Several economic and political reasons explain the creation, development, and transformation of research institutions, always making the distinction between institutional variance (reasons for creation, transformation, or disappearance) and institutional failure or success.

Economic nature of technology

Both the state and the private sector have an interest in obtaining part of the economic surplus generated by technology. The goal of the state is to make technology more widely available to its citizens, and the goal of the private sector is to use technology for profit-making production.

Technology may be in the public domain or it may be associated with the appropriation of economic benefit. Examples of the former include varieties of plants developed to ensure successive identical generations, usually by propagation, as in potatoes and sugarcane. Examples of the latter include hybrid seeds that cannot be used to grow successive generations because of falling yields, forcing the grower to buy from the hybrid breeder who retains the genes for crossing. Here, it is obviously in the private sector's interest to promote hybrids and in the state's interest to promote varieties. Some biological techniques, such as improved varieties resistant to pests or diseases, substitute for the use of chemical inputs. Here, the state has a central interest in research; private industry, in production.

The introduction of biotechnology and genetic engineering has enabled major chemical manufacturers to control the producers of improved varieties and hybrids and to create seeds that respond only to certain inputs, which they produce. This forces the buyers of hybrids to also buy the inputs. As a result, the seed producers of Latin America are in danger of losing their market.

Technology is also built into equipment, processes, and raw materials that are sold at prices set to recoup research costs and generate profits. Private enterprise is particularly interested in this type of technology, and it is often the only sector capable of making the large financial investment required. The four main models of research institutions are described here.

Institutions that liberate technology - Public-sector agricultural research institutes, regional research centres, and international institutes are typical of this organizational model in Latin America (Tables 2, 3, and 4). These institutions are complementary, although most NRIs do not possess the infrastructure needed to reproduce the products of the international research system.

Table 2 National agricultural research institutes in Latin America.



Year created


National Institute of Farming Technology (INTA)



National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIAP)



National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA)



Fondo Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (FONAlAP)



Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute (ICA)



Servicio de Extensión y Promocion Agraria (SlPA)



National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA)



Brazilian Agricultural Research Organization (EMBRAPA)


Source Pineiro and Trigo (1983).

Table 3. The international agricultural research centers.

Table 3 concluded

Table 4. Regional research centres with links in Latin America.

In terms of investment, it is estimated that the system of international centres spends approximately two and a half times more than national institutes. The investment of the CGIAR-affiliated centres is estimated to be about 200 million USD plus a similar amount for the other institutions listed in Table 3. Latin American NRls probably spend another 200 million USD between them. The economic surplus generated for the region runs into billions, which explains the interest in agricultural research.

International centres help countries keep up with developments in basic food production, a task that is especially critical in light of the current technological revolution in biotechnology and genetic engineering.

Institutions that appropriate technology - These models are generated by local or international private industry or agroindustry and are frequently linked to the research and marketing efforts of large transnational corporations. These companies are likely to be involved in breeding improved seeds and manufacturing fungicides, pesticides, fertilizers, other forms of soil treatment, or animal feed and concentrates (Pray and Echeverria 1989).

Included here are firms that manufacture and distribute machinery and implements, companies that produce the active ingredients and raw materials later assembled in satellite countries, as well as firms that provide support services (such as software for agricultural applications) and technical assistance for the pseudotransfer of process technology. (Pseudotransfer of technology occurs when research is conducted abroad, but development and promotion are carried out at home. This happens when inputs and machinery are imported and assembled with their technology built in and then sold locally. In vitro growing techniques for certain species are an example.)

Some NRIs work on technology that can be appropriated by the private sector. This includes farm machinery and irrigation systems, plants for research, and inputs such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Recently, NRIs and agroindustrial interests in Latin America have undertaken joint ventures to produce and market certain types of improved genetic material, machinery, and implements. The government contributes to the development of the technology and shares the profits with the private-sector partner.

Institutional models of restricted release - Here, technology is either copied, created, or adapted and then used by the group funding the research. Private institutes dedicated to applied research financed by producer associations are typical of this model. Examples include the Executive Commission of the Plan for the Economic Recuperation of Cacao (CEPLAC) in Brazil and the Centre for Coffee Research (CENICAFE) in Colombia.

In another version of this model, firms engaged in the processing of farm products support research to improve their raw materials. In Colombia, CENICANA, the Research Centre for Sugarcane, is an institute for research on sugarcane, and other countries have similar institutes funded by the manufacturers of cigarettes, chocolates, beer, and wine (Pray and Echeverria 1989). National and international consultants such as Chemonics and Winrock International, which release their knowledge to a restricted public and make cross-border transfers of technology, also fit this model.

Institutions liberating technologies between countries - These integrative institutions promote the dissemination of knowledge through the exchange of research as well as germplasm and other materials. Work often goes on concurrently and in a coordinated fashion in a number of countries (for more information, see Trigo 1988; IICA 1990; Plucknett et al. 1990). This category includes the following research networks (Ardila 1990):

International system networks, performing work that originates in the international research centres and is coordinated at the national level by an NRI;

· Cooperation networks among countries, such as the Central American Cooperation Program for Crop Improvement;

·Networks related with specific work under development by regional centres such as the Tropical Agricultural Research and Training Centre (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), in St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, or the Agricultural Research Foundation of Honduras (FHIA);

·Cooperation programs involving two or more countries, such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), also linked to the work of international centres. Examples are the programs for the Southern Cone (PROCISUR) and for the Andean Region (PROCIANDINO).

The development and transfer of technology

This section describes institutions composed of small groups working separately to contribute to the development and transfer of technology. The process includes the following stages (Ardila 1987, 1989):

· Acquiring and copying technology that requires no adaptation;

· Developing basic research to expand knowledge and production opportunities;

· Adapting, validating, and adjusting technology for specific applications;

· Developing technology to make it commercially available to a large market;

· Promoting technology; and

· Maintaining technology already on the market.

Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are the only Latin American countries to participate in all these stages. They are the only ones to distinguish between different research functions and to set up specialized scientific units with substantial budgets and first-rate staff and equipment. In contrast, the international centres focus almost entirely on basic research in defined areas. They do little applied work and international promotion, and their work requires completion by the countries to which it is delivered.

Most research institutions in Latin America are not actively involved in the first two stages (copying and developing technology). They tend to be engaged more in adapting, validating, and promoting technology as well as in protecting national inventions by restricting the import of new technologies. They may also take on ambitious projects to extend, transfer, and promote technology.

There is a serious lack of coordination in the region between research (adaptation, validation, and applied research) and efforts connected with the extension, promotion, and massive development of technology. Frequently, innovations go no farther than interesting research results. Although both research and development functions can be carried out successfully by one organization, they can also be divided between different bodies (as with EMBRAPA and EMBRATER, the Brazilian Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Corporation). These functions can take place under one roof and one management authority (as with the National Institute of Farming Technology (INTA) in Argentina) or under one roof and two management authorities (as with ICA in Colombia). In general, the more the functions are separated, the more difficult it is to make a positive impact on development because of the additional coordination required.

Institutional objectives and users

An institution is characterized by clearly defined objectives that can be associated with identifiable groups of users. In agricultural research, the users are farmers and the objective is technological development. Some institutions, however, have more than one objective and more than one kind of user. This multiplicity can lead to an overload of functions and complex operational structures that reduce effectiveness. The NRIs in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are examples of this; in addition to research, they perform control and supervision functions, provide technical assistance, and run sanitation campaigns.

Institutional users can be broken down by region, product group, type of research problem, and type of user. Some institutions are designed to serve the research needs of a specific region. For example, IAP (the Research Institute on Peruvian Amazon) serves the Peruvian Amazon and COA (Araracuara Corporation) covers the Colombian Amazon. Institutions also differ widely with respect to the type of products and problems they deal with. The NRIs tend to work on a wide variety of products, regions, and problems; other institutions restrict themselves to a single product and a few research problems. The work of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) in Kenya on trypanosomiasis and theilerosis in animals is an example of the latter. In general, an institution's chance of success is increased when its objectives and coverage are well defined and somewhat limited.

In addition to those mentioned so far, other organizational models also support the system's viability. The most important is the foundation model promoted by USAID (Sarles 1988). Foundations allow producers to exercise real influence in directing resources and activities to meet the sector's needs. This model ensures the creation of bonds and articulations in research because boards of directors include representatives of different research institutions. This promotes collaboration among them and strengthens their research, promotional, and educational activities.

Foundations have a more flexible and less bureaucratic management structure, and they are not as influenced by politics. Their role is not to undertake research, but to support institutions that do. In recent years, USAID has supported foundations in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,Jamaica, and Peru. Initial evaluations of the foundation model point to difficulties in ensuring stable, long-term domestic funding, a factor that may jeopardize its future.


An Agenda for the Future

We now have improved methodologies for evaluating the contribution of research results to economic growth. They have been refined to take equity into account - the distribution of benefits to different social sectors. Methodologies have been developed to evaluate impact at the product and regional level, and the work of Robert M. Solow has provided methodologies for evaluating research from the aggregate economic point of view (Romano 1987). Less work has been done on methodologies to evaluate equity, although the subject is now receiving closer attention. These three levels of methodological development are illustrated in the work of Solow (1957), Griliches (1958), and Schmitz and Seckler (1970).

The decline of the institutional research model has been advanced as a key reason for the failure of technological management to contribute to economic growth. Therefore, it is useful to identify the variables linked to institutional success. Institutional success occurs within a framework of efficiency - technologies that help to attain global objectives - and effectiveness - the achievement of results through good management of the organization and its resources.

This section outlines factors that may help to explain the success of agricultural research institutions. The variables thought to influence success are: the way in which the institution complements other institutions, the type of technology it produces, and its internal organization (Table 5). Each is analyzed in detail.

Table 5. Variables hypothetically associated with institutional success and failure.

Although the international centres have focused on basic technology, the NRIs have concentrated on applied technologies for public use, and the private sector has concerned itself with profit-making technology, there is a complementary relationship between all three. This affects the success of the system as a whole and each institution separately.


The system of international centres is constantly expanding the frontiers of knowledge through basic research and connections with specialist centres in developed countries Because the NRIs are unable to perform this function in Latin America, their work is assisted in great measure by the international system. If that interaction ceases, the efficiency of the whole system will suffer and so will food production.

Improved biological material usually comes out of the international system. Very few countries in the region have the capacity to improve their gene banks. Private enterprise has worked with applied technology, but only after obtaining improved germplasm from the international system and the NRIs. Therefore, private interests rely on the international system to provide improved material so that the yields of key crops such as rice, maize, wheat, potatoes, soybean, sorghum, and grasses can be maintained or increased.

Private enterprise in developed countries is different because it has the capacity to develop technology very rapidly for both machinery and inputs as well as genetic material. In this case, the NRIs import and adapt technology that perpetuates their dependency Because the NRIs are mainly occupied with improving plants, this complementary relationship has a decisive influence on success. The same is true of private enterprises associated with producer groups, although they are more interested in direct participation in research that goes further than producing improved varieties, responds to real needs and interests, and matures in the short term. Research institutes working on machinery and inputs face a different situation. But they barely exist in Latin America, except for some that are satellites of companies in industrialized countries.

Besides the complementarily between countries and the international system, countries in the region also complement each other. Important efforts are beginning in this respect, to some extent compensating for some of the defects and omissions of the international system, especially in fields different from basic foods (such as in the development of tropical products for export). It is clear that there is no such thing as technological independence and that interaction between the system's components is essential to institutional success.

Institutional success is closely linked to the practicality of a technology's new application. Technological change that does not meet real needs can result in institutional failure. A technology can, therefore, be measured by its contribution to economic growth, equity, and the conservation of natural resources. Contribution to economic growth refers to the overall aggregate impact of technological change on the allocation and use of a nation's resources. If the change does not produce a substantial surplus for the country and uses more of its scarce and more expensive resources, it represents a failure.

We may see a continuation of the institutional failures of the 1980s and 1990s if the NRIs cannot match the level of institutional activity of international centres and private enterprise in Latin America; that is, if they can no longer complement the other two elements in the system.

It is generally agreed that technology produces favourable results if it helps to improve the situation of a country's poor. Equity means that the benefits of technological change should be distributed fairly throughout society. Thus, the measure of institutional success or failure at this level will be largely determined by how equity is defined. Technology is considered a failure if it adversely affects sustainability and conservation of natural resources. Evidence seems to suggest that failure is more common than success.

Sixteen variables can be linked to an institution's success. The first seven are related to the context of the institution and the last nine to its internal management, organization, and policy.

1. Policy - Government policy, although not expressly formulated for research institutions, does in fact affect them, particularly with respect to funding for research and technology transfer and to organizational characteristics, functions, and objectives. For example, evidence shows that policies promoting an export-oriented economy also tend to support research and resource allocation for exportable goods.

2. Funding - Regardless of the legal nature of the institution, if the source of funds is limited, so is the institution's research capacity. Recently, the debt crisis and economic adjustment policies in Latin America have exacerbated the financial difficulties of the publicly funded NRIs.

3. Communications - All technologies require some degree of massive replication to reach producers. Latin American seed producers accomplish this task very efficiently. For other kinds of technology, particularly those not in the public domain, research institutions must develop communication links to ensure that technology reaches the producer.

4. Strategic alliances - In avoiding initiatives designed to broaden their funding base, publicly funded research institutions jeopardize their capacity to survive government cutbacks. Institutions need partners to perform complementary functions. Joint ventures always contribute to success.

When funds are scarce, partnerships within and between countries can be valuable. If operating costs comprise 30% of research costs, an institution can look to partners to cover the smaller budget items, or contract out its research capacity to other institutions. Depending on the type of institution receiving the contract, this arrangement can greatly expand an institution's capacity to achieve results. International cooperation on research is an example of using scarce resources wisely and simultaneously promoting equity among nations.

5. User participation - Institutions structured to allow the direct participation of users in research efforts tend to be more successful because they are more responsive to user needs. Several research institutions have created producer councils with the power to approve research plans and allocate funds. Governing councils can also be made up of government representatives rather than producers and serve as bureaucratic coordinating mechanisms.

6. External affiliation - Research institutions connected with larger institutional complexes have better chances for success. In Colombia, for example, coffee and sugarcane research institutes are part of a more complex system of production and distribution.

7. Country size - The larger a country and its economy, the better its chance of institutional success in research. Studies have shown that even the smallest crop research team in Central America costs far more that the crop's financing capacity, assuming that producers contribute 1% of the harvest toward research. This is one of the reasons that foundations and associations of regional centres are so vital to research.

8. Staff turnover - High staff turnover tends to delay research and raise its costs. An institution's ability to achieve significant results and use its resources efficiently depends on its capacity to retain qualified staff.

9. Staff quality - There is some evidence to suggest that high-quality technology requires highly qualified staff but this relationship must be investigated further.

10. Adaptability - An institution that can adapt easily to changes in its environment is more likely to be successful. Changes in research needs do not happen abruptly; they tend to evolve over time. Also, quick reactions to policy changes may lessen an institution's efficiency.

11. Capacity to change - Sometimes an institution's internal mechanisms act as obstacles to desired change and reduce its capacity to adapt to the environment. Changes in direction that are not backed by coherent internal decisions rarely produce good results.

12. Complexity and coverage - Institutions with a wide variety of objectives and clients may be more inclined to experience operational difficulties, internal competition for resources, and a greater likelihood of conflict, all of which lessen their chances of success.

13. Growth limits - Institutions that place clear limits on their growth are more successful than those that constantly expand their programs and coverage. The NRIs are a case in point. The fact that their programs and geographical coverage have grown far more quickly than their funding has created bottlenecks and hurt their performance.

14. Balance - A fair division of institutional resources between the development and transfer of research normally brings good results. In many cases, however, the balance of the two functions is not clearly defined, and resources for research exceed those devoted to transferring technological innovation.

15. Critical mass - Institutions must develop a critical mass of resources to achieve reasonable levels of success. If resources fall below a certain critical mass, an institution may be advised to reallocate funds and eliminate some of its activities.

16. Stability - Because research is a long-term activity, it needs stability to achieve its objectives. Frequent changes in objectives, organization, management, and staff can lead to institutional failure. Stability is therefore a prerequisite for success.



Chapter 5 Institutional development of research in economics

Miguel Urrutia

This chapter outlines factors affecting the development of economic research within Latin American institutions. It begins by looking at the supply and demand for economic research and exploring factors affecting the performance of economic research institutions. It concludes by offering proposals for institutional development.


Economic Research: Supply and Demand

Although research is always influenced by both supply and demand, in the field of economic research the supply often determines the demand. Highly qualified economists can create a demand for research by promoting the need for it within various social sectors. The demand for economic research is affected by the technical development of the government sector, the development of the university, the degree of democracy in a society, and the competitiveness of its economy.

Much of the demand for economic research is generated by the state, particularly the central bank, because the success of a country's monetary policy requires an understanding of money markets and monetary demand. Although central banks normally conduct most of their research internally, they may also tap external sources for research, such as associations of bankers and manufacturers, as well as universities and independent centres.

Economic research is also undertaken by unions, private banks, universities, and independent institutes and is shaped both by a society's decision-making processes and the openness of its public discussion. Democratic societies may exhibit a greater demand for research; in more authoritarian societies, research may be carried on in secret.

Levels of public-sector spending have a major impact on independent economic research. Central banks usually have sufficient resources and salary flexibility to perform research in-house. However, the intellectual freedom of researchers may be limited by the confidential nature of the research, as well as by the inability of these institutions to publish research critical of their own policies. Also, research topics are generally restricted to monetary and exchange policy. Much of the demand for economic research comes from government ministries, especially those concerned with finance and planning, although ministries of education, health, energy, and trade also need this type of research.

The nature of the demand for research is shaped by a country's decision-making process and the degree to which its decisions are democratically controlled. When a country's decision-making processes require methods to measure economic efficiency - for example, when the feasibility of projects must be assessed - the demand for applied economic research rises. The need for the technical justification of projects by international organizations or by the technocratic budget allocation process also increases the demand for research. Furthermore, the support for those technocratic processes is political and depends on the outcome of a conflict between those who base legitimacy on efficiency and economic growth and those who favour the clientelistic benefits of less rigorous selection criteria for public spending.

The state's research needs are shaped by the ideology of the body requesting the research, as well as by the flexibility of its salary structure and hiring regulations. In general, there is more demand for applied research than theoretical research. Most public-sector research is designed to find practical short-term solutions to urgent problems, although the state may occasionally contract for research of a more theoretical nature.

Another factor that affects public-sector demand for research is the professional training of senior government bureaucrats. If, for example, most of the top officials in a ministry of health are doctors, then less demand would be expected from that sector for economic research. On the other hand, in a country such as Colombia, where most senior government officials have graduate degrees, there is greater appreciation of the need for economic research and, therefore, a greater demand for it. Also, if it is well known that senior officials have a propensity to base their decisions on technical criteria, then unions and private firms may be more inclined to use economic studies to back their demands to government.

An economy's competitiveness also bears directly on the demand for research. In closed economies with a high degree of state intervention, there may be a tendency to use inside information to lessen business uncertainty. In open, competitive economies, economic research proves to be a better method of reducing uncertainty.

Because issues related to university development are so critical to understanding the demand for economic research, especially theoretical research, they must be a focus of our investigation. Top-quality schools of economics create a demand for teachers with research ability because these institutions rely on research to expand. Unfortunately, owing to low salaries and controls on tuition fees, many schools in the region cannot attract full-time professors or support much professional research. The lack of doctoral programs further affects the demand for academic research.

The crisis of the Latin American university has had a particularly adverse impact on theoretical research. Factors such as the financing of higher education and the structure and objectives of the university all shape the demand for theoretical research. For example, if a university's main objective is professional training, then its administrative systems will promote teaching rather than research. When funds are tight, teaching costs are cut by employing part-time and chair professors, who do not usually undertake research. Controlled tuition fees and constraints on public spending have led to such low faculty salaries that it is virtually impossible to retain highly qualified economists within the university.

In the future, all evaluations of institutional development in economic research organizations must consider the characteristics of research demand, the factors affecting the success of research, as well as the capacity of institutions to respond to changes and take advantage of demand niches.

The institutional development of research organizations is determined largely by the supply of qualified personnel. A limited supply makes it difficult to establish research centres with the necessary critical mass to make research feasible. The supply of researchers is determined by the number of economists with postgraduate training. Research skills are acquired through postgraduate programs and good undergraduate programs. The supply of qualified personnel has been shaped to a significant degree by the availability of scholarships for overseas study because the region did not have its own doctoral programs until very recently.

The characteristics of these scholarships have affected the supply of economists. Many scholarships were awarded on condition that a recipient spent time working at the sponsoring institution. This type of scholarship ties students to institutions that are not capable of sponsoring research and, therefore, contributes to increasing the pool of independent researchers only over the long term. It has been the scholarships that have been awarded without conditions that have been largely responsible for expanding the supply of independent researchers in Latin America.

Many Latin American countries have a limited supply of research economists. The overall number of postgraduate economists is small, and many are absorbed by government or international institutions. It is difficult for institutions to maintain more than five researchers on a permanent basis. It is also difficult to create productive research environments with small groups.

Historically, expatriates were the first economists in many Latin American countries. The first economic research was done by external organizations such as USAID, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the World Bank. Many foreign economists then became attached to schools of economics where they trained the first nationals as researchers. In the 1960s, foundations such as Ford and Rockefeller, as well as USAID, also financed visiting scholars' programs. So, in the beginning, part of the supply of economists was made up of foreign experts, and a large portion of postgraduate scholarships were of foreign origin. When the foundations and USAID reduced their support, the resulting cutback in scholarships and visiting professors significantly reduced the supply of economists. In the future, those concerned with the development of economic research should examine the relationship between institutional performance and the qualifications of research personnel.


Factors Affecting the Success of Research Institutions

Factors determining the success of economic research institutions include the motivation of economists, the research environment, research funding, the use of research, and the reliability of government statistical data.

The principal challenge of any research organization is to keep its research staff motivated. High levels of motivation are more likely to occur when research receives the approval of the community, particularly the academic and scientific community. It is vital to researchers that the results of research be seen as contributing to the formulation of economic and social policy, the efficiency of public spending, or the performance of private enterprise. It is generally easier to sustain motivation for research that accepts the dominant economic paradigm of the society. Economists working within other paradigms are more likely to be motivated by ideological commitment. The danger here is that if research results are not applied in a timely fashion they may lose their practicality

The international scientific community is another source of motivation, as well as a source of research funding. It was the support and encouragement of the international community that enabled Chilean economists to continue their work under the dictatorship, despite its total lack of support. The motivation and productivity of economists also depend on the working environment and the existence of a critical number of researchers. There are important synergies that make research very difficult to carry out in isolation. Research is much enriched by discussions between peers.

Economic incentives also play a decisive role in research. It is relatively easy for a researcher to find employment in the productive sector or with the government; therefore, income from research cannot be too much less what could be earned in alternative employment. Rigid salary structures make it difficult for universities to retain experienced economists and benefit from their increased productivity. Research on institutional development must address this issue.

The single most important determinant of institutional success is access to research funding. In the early stages of development, there were few local funding sources for economic research in Latin America. The region relied heavily on external sources such as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, some smaller foundations such as the Tinker Foundation, as well as international assistance from Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Later on, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank began to sponsor a limited amount of external research, although these agencies still preferred to do their own research. But because external financing is usually tied to specific projects, the flow of funding is rather unstable.

As the region developed, local sources of funding increased. They included foundations, state research funds, government contracts, as well as private sector and union funds. Because most local sources provided funding through projects, institutions were forced to develop the capacity to design and execute complex research projects. This had an impact on institutional structures. Because it is hard for centralized institutions to coordinate large quantities of funds and research staff, institutions were required to either shrink in size or decentralize project administration and hand it over to the researchers. The latter option necessitated a sophisticated system of cost-control accounting and precise rules for allocating administrative expenses.

Future research on institutional development should explore issues related to administration, research staff size, centralization versus decentralization, and quality control mechanisms such as peer review.

With externally financed research, the market may apply a certain degree of quality control. Because poor quality research affects a centre's output, the market can exert pressures for peer review. A few centres in the region have benefited from stable funding from sources such as government or academia, but these centres do not appear to have survived well, and the quantity and quality of their research has been somewhat inferior. Often, these centres have been unable to complete the long-term and complex projects they have begun. These cases require further study.

Funding is more likely to be available if sponsors can derive profit from the research. The private sector often makes this a prerequisite for its support, but it is also becoming a more common condition of contracts given out by. the public sector. Many of the determinants of institutional success described here do not apply to theoretical research, which tends to be linked to teaching. However, the current difficulties experienced by Latin American universities have led to a shortage of theoretical research in the region.

Research on institutional development must prove this hypothesis to be valid. If it is, systems should be designed to overcome this imperfection of the market. A system to overcome this shortcoming is proposed.


A Proposal for Institutional Development

The design of methodologies to assess research activity must be central to all efforts to develop economic research institutions. A survey of international journals would reveal a great deal about the production of Latin American research centres; it would establish the relative distribution between applied and theoretical research and analyze the success of research in the regional centres. Case studies could be conducted to investigate the influence of research on economic policy and decision-making. It is also important to find out how much local research is used in the region's economics courses. What books or papers resulting from local research are used in economics courses in relation to the international reference bibliography?

Most economic research in Latin America has been carried out outside the university, sometimes in research centres related to schools of economics but more often in completely autonomous research centres. One exception is the theoretical Marxist-oriented research conducted in some universities. Because there is little demand for this kind of research from either the private or public sector, it tends to be conducted in the spare time of faculty. In contrast, there is a great demand for applied economic research. Both the public and private sectors have a direct interest in studies that assess the impact of economic policy. Journals that publish studies in applied economics are in so much demand that they do not need to be subsidized.

Because university salaries have declined markedly throughout the last decade, many professors have taken on other research projects to supplement their incomes. In some universities, faculties have set up connected research centres. It is here that staff find research projects to enhance their basic salaries. However, these research centres lack the administrative flexibility of the university.

It is fair to conclude that the current structure of the university in Latin America does not promote research. Research activities do not furnish the promotions or rewards needed to advance teaching careers. Funds for research are scarce because the bulk of the university's budget goes toward salaries, and more emphasis is placed on the number of courses taught than on the quantity of research completed. Also, the salaries of academic staff have deteriorated to such an extent that university careers hold little allure.

The independent research centre has emerged as a viable institutional model in many Latin American countries; today, a large proportion of economic research in the region is conducted in these centres. These centres have many advantages. They have an administrative flexibility similar to small business and can pay competitive salaries. They can supplement teaching salaries until they become competitive with salaries in the private and public sectors. Their research may be more relevant to the community because it must please funders. Economists endeavour to produce work of a high enough academic standard to attract international funding. Competition for funds between centres tends to increase the quality and relevance of research projects. The relevance of research can be both a strength and a weakness: a strength because research has influence and applicability; a weakness because important research topics may be ignored because they are of little interest to funders.

The development of independent centres has deepened the crisis of the university. Many researchers have left teaching to dedicate all their efforts to projects in the centres. With the loss of researchers from university schools of economics, the quality of teaching has diminished. One result is that university professors who lose contact with research may transmit more obsolete knowledge. This type of teaching cannot make much of a contribution toward helping to apply theory to concrete national problems. Another problem is that independent research centres have few resources available for theoretical research. The result is a certain lack of theoretical economic research in the region. As with other sciences, economics requires theoretical development to advance. Applied economics is important, but the scientific community requires a minimum of people dedicated to the development of theory.

The two main strengths of independent research centres are flexibility and responsiveness. The fact that they are more likely to be influenced by market pressures means that the research topics chosen will generally tend to coincide with the interests of some organization or societal group. There is also a greater chance that research will stay within reasonable time frames and budgets. The weaknesses of the independent centres lie in the separation of the researcher from the teaching environment and the difficulty of financing theoretical research. These problems are not insurmountable; the best economists are generally involved in consultancies, teaching, and theoretical research. The challenge for the profession is to develop the funding mechanisms to allow economists the time to engage in all these activities.

One possible solution is to set up an endowment in each research centre to allow researchers to devote part of their time to university teaching. This scheme would enable researchers to return to teaching and conduct theoretical research related to their specialty. At the same time, they could finance the rest of their time with contracts and consultancies from the private sector, which would let them maintain contact with the real world through their professional work in the field of applied economics. The capacity to obtain some income from the market could also be used as a test to select those professionals who should remain in research centres.

This scheme differs from those of industrialized countries where endowments are created within universities for professors. Here, it is recommended that partial endowments be established for professors at institutions other than universities. The North American or English system would not work in Latin America because of problems related to the extremely bureaucratic nature of the university as well as the system of salaries and economic incentives. Research institutions introduce the required element of competitive pressure.

In conclusion, the ideal solution is to establish endowments for research centres in economics that would enable researchers to devote part of their time to university teaching and part of their time to theoretical research. To further justify this strategy, it would be critical to identify the institutional environments that currently promote the best economic research in Latin America. The Inter-American Development Bank has clearly shown that excellent research is carried out in independent research centres. However, it would also be useful to study specific cases to discover which institutional arrangements best promote theoretical research and closer links with the university without destroying the flexibility and responsiveness of the independent research centres.


Chapter 6 Institutional development of educational research

Patricio Cariola

The purpose of this chapter is to outline factors that influence the development of educational research institutions in Latin America. Although the discussion is mostly confined to factors that only affect institutions, it is somewhat difficult to separate these from factors that influence the overall development of educational research.

This chapter looks at both the internal and external factors affecting institutional development. The main internal factors are type of institution, product specificity, research staff, management, and commitment to action programs and teaching. It begins by examining the types of institutions conducting educational research because this factor is so important that other factors can only be understood in relation to it.

The chapter then addresses the sensitive issue of product specificity. Although the quality of educational research in Latin America has been surprisingly good, it is still poor in comparison with other fields of knowledge and inadequate to meet the needs of the educational system. It then goes on to examine the training and working conditions of research staff, a factor that takes on unique characteristics in education. It also looks at the academic and financial management of educational research. Lastly, the chapter considers the commitment of research centres to action programs and teaching activities. The former applies mostly to nongovernmental research centres; there is little data on the latter.

The external factors considered include financing, the social and political environment, and communications networks. In conclusion, the discussion identifies the most influential factors in the development of educational research in the region and presents suggestions for further research.


Internal Factors Affecting Institutional Development

Type of institution

Four types of institutions carry out educational research in Latin America: universities, government education ministries, nongovernmental centres, and international organizations. The characteristics of each type shapes its development and interacts with other internal and external factors.

Universities - In Latin America, educational research originated in high schools and pedagogical institutes attached to universities. After World War 11, educators attempted to give their profession a more scientific basis by establishing schools of education. At the curriculum level, these schools train specialists and future education professors. At the postgraduate level, an increasing number of universities have succeeded in attracting qualified department heads to conduct research; however, no new knowledge has been produced. Even in the best universities, research has been limited to graduate theses; only an exceptional few have achieved a sustained output. University centres are characterized by their relative autonomy as academic units, and working conditions do not seem to favour other alternatives.

The emergence of the social sciences in the 1950s changed the landscape of educational research in Latin America. The social, economic, and political dimensions of education were recognized, and most importantly, new theoretical and methodological perspectives were introduced. Professionals with training in areas other than education began to investigate educational problems, teach in schools of education, and take jobs in public-sector technical organizations. When sociologists started to influence educational theory at the academic level, the psychopedagogical perspective, formerly the leading school of thought, gave way to a socioeducational perspective.

The field of educational policy and planning was left to the economists in charge of ministries of finance and international agencies. Educators and schools of education began to lose control over the field as new disciplines and professional groups began to shape political and technical decisions on education. This shift was supported by international organizations that believed that as the key to development, education was too important to be left solely in the hands of educators.

A clear distinction must be drawn between the approaches of educators and those of interdisciplinary groups and NGOs. The former are linked to the attempt to create an autonomous field of knowledge called educational science." The latter are linked to groups outside education concerned about the growing demands placed on the political structure by the educational system and society. These two approaches have very different outcomes.

Ministries of education - The growth of the educational system in the 1950s and 1960s coincided with the rise of planning offices within ministries of education. These technical bodies produced quantitative and operational studies on the administration of the educational system. They tended to advocate a socioeducational approach - which concerns itself with the impact of the educational system on the country's social and economic goals - over a psychopedagogical or curriculum-based approach.

At the same time, some governments were setting up research and curriculum-development centres to support educational reform. This is how the Centro de Perfeccionamiento, Experimentación e Investigaciones Pedagógicas in Chile, the Instituto Colombiano de Pedagogia in Colombia, and the Oficina de Planificacion Educativa in Venezuela were born. These centres only produced research for a short time then they either declined in importance or disappeared completely (Chiappe and Myers 1983).

Some ministries of education contract out research to other institutions; this is the case in Mexico (Quintero et al. 1983), Colombia (salvo 1991), and Chile. Most of the funds for such studies come from international sources in the form of loans or donations.

Nongovernmental centres - Nongovernmental educational research centres are characteristic of Latin America. They emerged out of severe social and political problems; the challenges of the Cuban revolution; the new social awareness of the Catholic Church; the development of the social sciences in the universities; the financing for community development projects available from international cooperation agencies set up by European and North American churches; and the rise of a generation of young professionals in church movements dedicated to social change. Neither the university nor ministries of education provided environments conducive to change-oriented research and action.

Nongovernmental centres have their origins in philanthropic, professional, and scientific interests. Over time, their approach has shifted from a socioeconomic orientation to a sociocultural orientation. Within a varied at-ray of centres, there are many whose primary activity is educational research.

These centres have chosen to use "popular education" methods to address social problems engendered by poverty and marginality (Gajardo 1989). The first experiences of grassroots social and political change, as expressed in the writings of Paulo Freire, stirred an interest in popular education on the part of social scientists, educators, and community-development workers. Because popular education has both research and action components, it is not surprising that most of the activities undertaken by the educational research centres employ a popular education approach to adult education. This approach is based in a group's own culture and promotes their active participation in the solution of everyday problems, within a social change perspective.

This new thinking has also awakened academic interest in industrialized countries and generated new models for social development. It is also having an interesting impact on the school system (Program de las 900 Escuelas 1991). Although these centres have a hard time obtaining funding for research on the school system, they are still generally the leaders in educational research in their countries. The largest ones are now beginning to communicate with universities and to cooperate with international development agencies, at both national and regional levels.

Because nongovernmental centres tend toward greater academic and administrative efficiency, ministries of education expect more from them than from universities in terms of policy design, implementation, and evaluation. It has been observed that the work rhythms of university institutions do not meet ministry requirements (salvo 1991).

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the nongovernmental centres has been to support teams of interdisciplinary researchers who publish research studies and train other researchers. Neither governments, universities, nor international organizations have been able to match this accomplishment. Despite the precarious situation faced by most institutions in Latin America, these centres have shown remarkable operational stability, although they depend almost exclusively on international funding for educational research and innovation.

International organizations - International organizations such as OAS, Unesco, the International Labour Office (ILO), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) produce and disseminate educational research through projects, technical meetings, and specialized centres. Outstanding specialized centres include the Centro Regional de Educación de Adultos y Alfabetización Nacional in Mexico (adult education); the Centro Regional pare la Educación Superior en América Latina y el Caribe in Venezuela (higher education); Instituto Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Planificación Económica y Social in Chile and Centro Interamericano de Estudios de Investigación pare el Planeamiento de la Educación in Venezuela (planning); Centro Interamericano de Ensenanza de Estadistica (statistics); Centro Interamericano de Investigación y Documentación sobre Formación Profesional in Uruguay (professional education); and the Programa Regional del Empleo pare America Latina y el Caribe (education and employment).

A recent study (Garcia-Huidobra and Ochoa 1989) on the contribution of research to educational policy-making in Latin America underscores the importance of institutional type to the development of educational research centres and explores its impact on research outputs. The study shows the following:

· Government agencies generally undertake research to help improve the operation of educational systems. In the poorest countries, this type of research is conducted exclusively by government; in more developed countries, it is done by universities and nongovernmental centres. Government research is purely pragmatic and has no academic pretensions.

· The university's focus on disciplinary studies with precise methodologies allows it to excel at dealing with well-defined subjects. However, its deficiencies include studies on conventional subjects and with narrow objectives. Because universities are highly influenced by professional interests they tend to favour studies related to university specialties.

· Nongovernmental centres are particularly relevant to the production of educational research in Latin America because they account for more than one third of the region's total research output - half, if international organizations are excluded. These centres have three special features: their contribution to new subjects and methodologies, their social vision on educational issue, and their willingness to deal with issues relevant to the popular sectors. The latter include nonformal education (popular education), literacy, preschool education, and the links between education and poverty - more than one third of research is on this last subject. In general, critical research on the education of the poor is increasing (Garcia-Huidobro et al. 1989).

· International organizations play an interesting role in educational research in Latin America. Although they share many of the characteristics of government centres (as well as institutional and systemic interests), they are more like independent research centres in their capacity to innovate and introduce critical new concerns to the research agenda.

Although educational research has made great strides, it has not as yet made much headway in improving the efficiency of the educational system and helping it to meet the requirements of socioeconomic development in the region (ECLAC 1991; Unesco 1991). The main contribution of research has been to help identify and provide a rich socioeducational framework for understanding and solving key educational problems.

Product specificity

Product specificity is characteristic of scientific and technological activities. Here, "specificity" refers to the capacity of research - in this case on education - to contribute to the design of precise policies and the formulation of solid explanatory theories. Most educational research in Latin America is not sufficiently specific. All research groups, regardless of their institutional situation, should strive for more specificity in their work on education.

One analysis of the products of educational research in Latin American drew the following conclusions (Garcia-Huidobro and Ochoa 1989):

· Educational research is increasingly concerned with issues related to learning, knowledge taught in schools, and the social usefulness of education. This major shift came in response to the severe problems facing educational systems, which have achieved wide coverage while suffering from poor quality. However, the approaches used in this research are far too general to make a real contribution to improving the operation of policies and educational quality; this is especially true in poorer countries. For example, research tends to concentrate more on the education system in general than on specific issues and more on Latin America as a whole than on specific countries or groups (such as farmers or the indigenous population). There are few research studies that take a case-study approach.

· Research attention has centred on the macrostructural relationship between education and the community or on strictly pedagogical issues unrelated to the social framework. Issues related to teaching and learning and the main actors in the educational system - parents, teachers, and students - as well as knowledge generated by the process have only begun to be studied. Variables related to professors, alumni, and the communication process have always been considered more important.

· Educational research in Latin America is largely confined to the educational arena - paying little attention to the media - and to major technological, scientific, and economic developments affecting education today.

Whereas the quality of learning is determined by the pedagogical relationship, the efficiency of education depends on the way the educational system obtains and administers resources. Therefore, the lack of research on the administration and financing of education has potentially serious consequences. There is also a dearth of research on the relationship between administrative changes (such as decentralization) and the quality of teaching.

In our opinion, specificity and pertinence are not unattainable goals for research because Latin America already has a language of education. The basic assumptions of research have shifted from a naive belief in development theories and central planning to a radical critique of social structures and the educational system. Today, efforts centre on designing specific policies to improve educational quality (Garcia Guadilla 1987). These efforts have been heroic because the new language is located in a context of "theoretical poverty," "methodological inconsistency," and nascent research traditions (Favero et al. 1990, quoting Guiomar Ramos de Mello).

Research staff

Perhaps the most important aspect of an institution is its research staff. An institution needs competent, imaginative, and committed researchers to earn a good reputation, attract funding and produce quality research. The competence of the research staff, the time available to devote to research, and the opportunity to establish permanent working groups are key factors in the production and accumulation of knowledge. Behind every good piece of research is a group of researchers who have worked together for a long time.

The institution's capacity to recruit and retain top-notch research staff is a function of academic and financial factors as well as of the institution's capacity to offer structured research careers, and all of these vary according to institutional type. Each type of institution has its own disadvantages: for the ministries of education, it is low rents; for the universities, shortage of time; and for the nongovernmental centres, lack of stability.

Studying the relationship between training and productivity may help to identify that young people should be recruited into educational research. It is widely believed that educators do not make good researchers because they prefer to teach than to observe, read, or write. Their main concerns are methodological, and they learn from their experience.

The existence of another group raises key questions for the training of researchers. These are specialists in the human sciences and philosophy who have dedicated their professional careers to education without losing touch with their specialties. These individuals often express an interest in education right from the beginning of their studies; they also know how to work with educators. They produce interesting and relevant research that has excellent potential to influence policy and educational practice. Because the educational system relies on educators, it is necessary to understand their language. The development of educational research institutions requires both first rate researchers and interdisciplinary research teams.

The training of young researchers, whether at home or overseas, must be oriented beyond the opportunity market. Ideally, the managers of institutions employing researchers should follow their training activities and provide attractive working conditions on their return.

We should also take a closer look at the relationship between the aims of research and the needs of the educational system. There is no question that research outputs should be useful to the educational system (the users of knowledge); however, researchers (the generators of knowledge) should also feel free to tackle the issues that they consider important, regardless of what the rest of society thinks. The development of research centres and the overall legitimacy of educational research depend on the ability of research staff to do both. However, usefulness should be the engine driving educational research, not knowledge for its own sake.

The issue of research careers is linked to the way different types of institutions are organized. It is not only a matter of economics; it is also a matter of how knowledge is conceived, produced, transmitted, and used. It is also a question of the connection between educational research and teacher training as well as the academic and power relations between teachers and researchers. Another key factor is the links between bodies dedicated to education, psychology, economics, social sciences, and philosophy because they all affect education.

Institutional management

It is our hypothesis that management skills will prove to be increasingly important to the development of educational research institutions in the future. Here, "management" means the ability to establish and promote all facets of an institution - academic, financial, and administrative. In practical terms, management can be thought of as a group's capacity to undertake an intellectual project to which it is committed. The following three points support this hypothesis:

· The bulk of funding for educational research has been channelled through projects, even at the university level. Because this funding has come primarily from international sources, institutions need to establish and maintain an international reputation. They must also produce high-quality research and be able to justify the funding received.

· The most dynamic institutions are able to deal with funding that is delivered through projects, especially external funding. This discussion refers to institutions that have a certain independence of thought along with an organizational structure that can handle projects; examples are the nongovernmental centres, the more independent of the university centres, and some international organizations. Project financing requires a certain management ability to guarantee continuity. In the more successful institutions, the principal researchers are integrally involved in designing and marketing projects as well as carrying them out; their salaries depend on it.

Dedicated effort is required to ensure that the supply meets the demand and vice versa. An institution must be familiar with the policies of funding agencies, local educational policies, as well as the nature of the academic discussion that influences them. It must also be able to grasp the workings of research contracts and educational research subsidy mechanisms. This constitutes the public relations and marketing aspect of educational research.

· Strong academic leadership is needed to safeguard the intellectual and economic independence of institutions because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the weakness of knowledge within it.

The preceding points confirm the importance of management skills to the survival of educational research institutions in today's small, segmented market. However, the real challenge for educational research - and society in general - is to recognize that educational systems constitute an enormous potential market for research. Researchers should not be perceived merely as the supply - as those who generate the knowledge needed to increase the productivity of educational activities - they should also be actively involved in helping to create the demand for research by convincing those in authority of the urgent need for it. Not only must the product be good, but consumers must be persuaded they need it. It is not enough for more resources to be allocated to educational research; research results must also be published and widely disseminated to those who might find them useful. This would help to increase the demand for research.

Action programs

We have previously mentioned the contribution made by the nongovernmental centres to adult popular education and to addressing the problems of poverty. Research-action programs have been central to the development of these centres; their survival would have been jeopardized had they devoted their efforts exclusively to research.

Although many international agencies am reluctant to provide funding to the formal educational system and to educational research, they are often willing to finance projects that design, streamline, and communicate approaches to educate and improve the situation of the poor.

Scientists and practitioners in the field of education rarely work together or communicate well. However, the evaluation of adult education programs - which emphasize action over knowledge acquisition - has provided such an opportunity. Combining research and promotion has enabled social scientists and adult educators to work together in such a way that research and action can influence one another. Popular education has provided a vehicle for the merging of scientific research and the development and dissemination of new technologies. Cooperation in this area has stimulated the development of more effective technologies. Interestingly, it has been in these areas, so far from the productive world, that the most interesting educational innovations in Latin America have occurred.

The phenomenon of popular education illustrates the importance of the "development" factor to the educational research centres. If these centres were also able to operate in the formal education system, perhaps the synergy (in terms of change) that has taken place in the productive world and in popular education programs, could also happen in the school system.


When it comes to teaching, there are more questions than answers. How does teaching affect the development of educational research? Is it a help or a hindrance? Is it the university's responsibility to link research and teaching? What is the potential for a productive relationship between research and teaching today and in the future? What conditions should be placed on educational research? Do the theses of doctoral students contribute to the productivity of educational research? Is it possible to create links between the needs of educational systems and the output of the universities? Should the nongovernmental centres be involved in teaching? Would this affect their productivity? Would it reduce their contribution to policy formulation? Would they be able to maintain the action programs that influence their theories? Can scientific research, technological development, the diffusion of research, and teaching all be done in one institution in the case of education? If they could, would this have strategic or tactical importance?

Experience does not provide any answers. It is disturbing that the knowledge on education generated by teachers' training centres is not meeting the real needs for education and training. It is also of concern that these centres are not linked to organizations generating new ideas on education. In the same way that it is necessary to take a serious look at the way educational research is organized - perhaps more so than any other sector - the same is true of teaching, technological development, and dissemination. These must respond to - and, indeed, anticipate - social needs; at the same time, they must foster the scientific disciplines needed for the growth of knowledge.

There is a new dynamic in education characterized by the introduction of the interests of private firms; deregulated and privatized educational systems; and informatics and the mass media in the transmission of knowledge and values. In a new institutionalization of knowledge production and dissemination in education, there are three challenges: combining conflicting trends, making schools more effective, and having an impact on the ethical dimension of human development.


External Factors Affecting Institutional Development

Three external factors affecting educational research are worthy of analysis financing, the sociopolitical and cultural environment, and communication networks between centres and researchers.


International financing - International financing has been critical to institutional development. To understand how critical, we only have to recall the serious decline in quality research during the economic crisis of the 1980s. During this period, there was also a significant reduction in opportunities for postgraduate study overseas. This lack of external support completely wiped out a whole generation of researchers.

International assistance from bilateral agencies, international organizations, and NGOs should be directed to independent centres so that they can work with government ministries to generate research and innovation. Ministry staff are preoccupied with running the educational system and have little time to develop ways to improve its quality through research and experimentation. They may not even be capable of doing so. The universities are more concerned with academic and instructional issues than with innovation. Because the independent centres have shown such creativity and efficiency with respect to nonformal education, perhaps they could also be an effective vehicle for reforming the formal education system. If we do not use them to advantage, we are wasting a wonderful opportunity to reach the poor through the formal education system.

National financing - Governments support educational research by providing funds to universities and national educational research bodies. Of the latter, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ) in Brazil has been one of the most active. Others include the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACYT) in Mexico (Quintero Hernandez et al. 1983), the Fondo Colombiano de Investigaciones Cientificas y Proyectos Especiales Francisco Jose de Caldas (COLCIENCIAS) in Colombia (Chiappe and Myers 1983), and the Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Tecnologica (CONICYT) in Chile. These funds are designated to cover research expenses and not salaries. Despite the large amount of resources spent on educational systems, it seems that few countries other than Mexico allocate significant amounts to educational research and to the development of innovation. The only exception is when funds come from external sources. Chile, for example, has recently invited bids for eleven projects that will lead to the eventual redesign of secondary education in that country.

We are unable to say much about the contribution of the universities to the financing of educational research. Except for those with special funds for research, the contribution of universities is limited to financing faculty salaries.

Private foundations have furnished significant support to the development of educational research in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela and, more recently, Chile and Peru. One example is the Carlos Chagas Foundation of Sao Paulo, an institution that supports research with the funds it obtains from evaluating and selecting students and personnel for universities and companies. In Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, the Lampadia Foundations have initiated important educational research activities. Some governments are beginning to offer tax exemptions to firms that provide donations for educational or scientific ends.

This review of financing mechanisms exposes the overall weakness of educational research in Latin America. Educational research does not yet have a solid economic base in Latin America; neither the public nor the private sector has taken charge of its overall development at the national level. The production of new knowledge depends largely on external support, which is delivered through a wide range of vehicles.

A more thorough study of the role of funding in institutional development should take the following variables into account: the origin of the funds (external, internal, or both and the proportions of each), mode of delivery (by institution, by program, by project, or by service), funding agency priorities (for research or action programs), socioeconomic level of the recipient (poorer countries are more likely to attract external financing), and the type of institution requesting the funds. Regardless of how these variables are combined, the main factor is the overall availability of funds, both external and internal.

The social and political environment

External financing is influenced both by current ideas on development and the relationship of developed countries to the less developed ones. These determine development assistance policies and priorities. This also applies to the field of education and, therefore, to educational research.

It was not accidental that the momentum of educational research picked up after the Regional Conference on Education and Economic and Social Development, organized by Unesco in Santiago in 1962. This conference highlighted the relationship between education and development and the need for planning and educational research. The Jomtien Conference, sponsored by UNDP, Unesco, UNICEF, and the World Bank, raised these issues once again (WCEA 1990).

At the regional level, a significant impetus to educational research was provided by the new growth strategy proposed by ECLAC (1991), the recent meeting of ministers of education in Quito (recommendations of PROMEDLAC IV; Unesco 1991), and especially the document on education and knowledge prepared jointly by ECLAC and Unesco. These documents and meetings have helped to shift the heavy gears of national and international financing.

At the national level, the programs of governments and political parties have an impact on research. So does modernization; a country in the process of modernization generally strives to improve the research on which policies are based. Countries that modernized early and have an older educational tradition tend to accord greater importance to research in general and educational research in particular. Faith in the potential of science and progress bears more heavily on the culture of the community and its institutions.

From a cultural point of view, key factors in educational research include the state of social science development and the recognition of scientific work as a social asset. Without these, no serious educational research can be accomplished; only the formal requirements will be met. Most researchers are not subjected to peer criticism or to measurement against a set of standards. It would appear that the setting of standards is one sign of institutional development. When standards are socialized, they are easier to achieve.

Communication networks

Communications networks have acquired a new importance to research. A network allows for coordination, accumulation, criticism, and communication between researchers over geographic distances. It is worthwhile to study how networks can contribute to the development of educational research. They have great potential; without them, it is more difficult for knowledge to be used.

Regional networks - There are a wide variety of educational research networks in Latin America (Schiefelbein 1982). The main one is the Latin American Network on Information and Documentation (REDUC), which is made up of a network of institutions and a comprehensive data base on educational research.

Since its inception in 1972, REDUC has collected, analyzed, and disseminated documents related to educational research through a cooperative network of 27 centres located in almost all Spanish - and Portuguese - speaking countries in Latin America. The data base currently processes about 2 000 new documents a year. In addition to circulating print materials and magnetic disks, each national centre publishes a magazine and exchanges it with other centres, thereby making the production of the entire network available to the public (Braham et al. 1 983).

Recently, a need has emerged for intermediaries or brokers to link available knowledge to the policy development process. These brokers may play an important role in increasing the demand for educational research and in encouraging new funding for it.

The following have influenced the achievements of REDUC:

· The cooperative nature of the network. Each institution customizes its work according to its possibilities and interests through its own publications. Consistency is ensured through technical rules and the survival of national networks.

· The network links research institutions interested in documents, rather than specialized documentation centres, which means it can facilitate access to the results of research and its subsequent use.

· These organizations belong to all the categories discussed in this chapter: governments, universities, private centres, and international organizations.

The wide variety of tasks performed by the centres: from analytical summaries to state-of-the-art work; from publications on paper to magnetic disks; from meetings of researchers to national networks.

· The leadership and coordination, in terms of methodology development, personnel training, and the search for and administration of funding.

· The emphasis on the use of products and the continuous education of users.

· The recognition by centres that belonging to REDUC provides important institutional benefits, and the willingness of these centres to invest substantial resources in its operation.

· Its status as a regional institution, which qualifies it for regional funding from bilateral aid organizations. These funds are often easier to obtain than funds allocated to specific countries by the same organizations.

· The provision of cumulative indexes, by author and key word, for all the material collected and processed by REDUC, creating an indispensable foundation for a regional community of researchers.

· REDUC is both a data base and a network of institutions; therefore, it is a living organization at the regional level. The national networks just starting should copy this example at the local level.

REDUC's constraints include a lack of connection between demand and supply, the difficulty marketing its products, and an insecure financial arrangement with governments and international organizations.

International networks - In the discussion of management, the importance of academic and financial connections with the outside world was stressed. The wider and more active an institution's networks, the greater the likelihood of institutional development, especially if it aims to provide services outside the country. The academic and financial networks are closely linked in this case.

Latin American institutions must stay abreast of the knowledge produced in industrialized countries so that the region's products can command respect in the rest of the world. It is especially important to establish direct contact with researchers in industrialized countries, especially those working in the area of education and development. They are looking at problems that directly affect people in Latin America and generally have more access to resources to investigate them. Because these countries are richer in resources and are normally at the forefront of world knowledge production, our relationship with them is not equal. Educational research in Latin America will have achieved maturity when it is as capable as the North of generating the knowledge and innovation needed to solve common problems.



Experience has shown all the factors previously described to be critical to the development of educational research; however, it can be argued that the most important is management capacity, especially as it affects an institution's ability to stimulate and meet the demand for educational research. The more that management capacity is shared throughout the institution the better; without it research cannot be improved.

The second most important factor is the quality of research staff. This disparate group of professionals must continue to work together in a coordinated fashion to investigate the key problems facing education today. Only in this way will Latin America be able to meet its main challenge: the production of useful and specific educational research.



Chapter 7 Industrial research and development institutions in brazil

Jacques Marcovitch and José Adelino Medeiros

This chapter looks at the origins, development, and performance of technological and industrial research institutes in Brazil. Although the discussion here is based on the Brazilian experience, some of the conclusions may apply to other Latin American countries as well.

Technological research institutes and technological centres within corporations and universities bring scientific and technological knowledge to industry and play a key role in the acquisition and transfer of technology. These centres facilitate technological innovations involving products, processes, and services. These bodies are able to act as intermediaries between academia and industry and to connect scientific and empirical knowledge with the production process because they understand and function in both worlds. They generate technology by transforming scientific and technological research into technological innovations.

These institutes fall into four main categories:

· Public institutes for technological and industrial research (federal and state institutes),

· Private institutes for technological and industrial research,

· Technological research centres connected to universities, and

· Technological research centres run by industry.

Despite the crisis that currently threatens their survival, these institutes have played and will continue to play a crucial role in Brazil's technological development. They have emerged to bridge the gap between industry and academia that exists in most developing countries. Universities often find it difficult to establish links with industry. They may fear that efforts to apply research to production would divert the university from its main goal, which is to train human resources and contribute to the development of knowledge. Technological research centres take advantage of the efforts, human resources, and equipment of universities to connect industry to the sources of knowledge.

The excitement that greeted the development of these institutions in the 1970s was soon overshadowed by the costs of the 1980s. So far, there are no signs that the scientific-technological sector will be revitalized; a radical reorientation is needed. The economic instability in Latin America has impeded many attempts to produce long-term results; the biggest casualty has been scientific and technological development projects.

With few exceptions, the scientific and technological apparatus has become outdated and stagnant, owing in part to the lack of enthusiasm shown by individuals involved in it. As a result, Latin America has fallen even further behind countries that lead the way in science and technology. However, this situation has laid the groundwork for the adoption of realistic and consistent measures that can stimulate technological and industrial research.


Trends in Science and Technology in Brazil

Brazil's significant scientific and technological progress has been fragmented and dispersed throughout certain areas of knowledge and economic sectors. In the 1980s, Latin America experienced an economic and fiscal crisis that contributed to the deterioration of higher education in Brazil. At the same time as the frontiers of scientific and technological knowledge were being pushed back on the international level, science and technology in Brazil was suffering a severe setback.

Scientific and technological development was the subject of much discussion during the 1989 presidential election campaign in Brazil. The authors of this chapter were given access to questionnaires completed by presidential candidates as part of a survey conducted by the Brazilian Technology Magazine for CNPQ. This material was published in the interviews of Mascarenhas (1989) and provides the basis for the following discussion.

According to the CNPQ survey, defining a medium- and long-term strategy for developing science and technology and giving the sector top priority would require that

Brazil must increase its investment in science and technology, carry out a more strict coordination and articulation of activities and choose priorities and routes for research and training of human resources in a careful and steady way.

Decisive action on the part of the state and a comprehensive reformulation of the actions and strategies of technological research institutions, as well as of national productive and economic sectors, are essential. These subjects are of particular interest for the analysis under consideration.

As Brazil enters the 21st century, its technological development and links to the industrial sector still do not occupy a well-defined and durable space. Brazil does not compare favourably with other nations. Currently, Brazil invests about 0.6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in science and technology; Italy invests 1.5%; Korea, 2%; Japan, 3%. Brazil has 400 researchers per million inhabitants; Italy has 200; Korea, 2000; Japan, 6000. In Brazil, the private sector's proportion of total investment in science and technology is 8% (in Italy it is 30%; in Japan, 72%) .

Although some progress has been made in scientific and technological development in Brazil, there have also been countless setbacks and a lack of firm and consistent policy guidelines. Some scientific and technological developments must be stimulated selectively, and stagnation must be identified along with human resources involved in education.

According to Marcovitch (1990, p. 28) the scars of recent economic failures still affect science and technology in Brazil today. The government has dealt with urgent problems through confrontation or "clashes": turbulence, crises, and collapses are all part of the country's socioeconomic context. Unrest turns into a crisis, a crisis into a collapse, and, before a collapse turns into chaos, a "clash" approach is adopted, leading once again to unrest.

In recent years, industrial and technological policies have suffered from such an approach. The former government took many years to develop such a policy, which was finally announced in May 1989 in an atmosphere of great anticipation. The plan included concrete projects and seemed to have both internal and external consistency. Unfortunately, its regulation was distorted by the guidelines followed. A year later, the productive sector was no longer a priority, and technological development programs had not been strengthened.

In 1990, the current government introduced two documents vital to the country's industrial and technological policy: General Guidelines for the Industrial and Foreign Trade Policy, in June, and Support to Technological Training in Industry, in September. These documents advocated a more efficient use of the market, a substantial reduction in incentives, tariff protection, and the competitive reconfiguration of industry through an increase in productivity and the adoption of international quality standards. The Brazilian Quality and Productivity Program supports these activities.

The impact of the new policy should be carefully monitored. Enhancing the competitiveness of Brazilian firms abroad will require strengthening the domestic market through better income distribution. A company's export capacity depends on economies of scale, which can be adversely affected by a consumer market weakened by inappropriate income distribution.

The sectors generating technological progress were given special attention in Brazil's industrial and technological policy in light of their overall contribution to modernization and economic development. The proposals anticipated such activities as identifying selective markets, products, and services capable of maximizing the impact of new technology. According to the plan, Brazil's technological infrastructure was also to be updated. Efforts were to be concentrated on modernizing research institutes, laboratories, and university research centres and, in the future, creating new institutes in emerging areas.


Technological and Industrial Institutions in Brazil

Industrialization in Brazil reached its peak after World War II. There was a decline in the foreign demand for primary products and a reduction in import capacity. Brazil's industrial machinery overcame these problems by adopting a model of import substitution, emphasizing the production of consumer goods with technology from abroad. This marked the beginning of a technologically dependent industrial structure. This hurt the capital goods industry, which favoured the production of consumer or intermediate goods.

According to Kataoka (1987, p. 29), it was later recognized that the import substitution policy could not accelerate industrial growth. Since 1967, different measures have been taken. These new measures were geared toward encouraging the export of manufactured goods as well as expanding the domestic market for durable consumer and capital goods.

The period between 1968 and 1973 was characterized by serious stagnation in Brazil's development and the beginning of explicit technological policy. A study by Gusmao (1987) shows a noticeable increase in exports and significant public investment during this period, which led to a major expansion of the productive segment of the state apparatus. Industrial research institutes proliferated; approximately 60% of these centres were created between 1966 and 1980. There was also a more profitable use of existing capacity, especially in projects that provided technical support to infrastructure activities.

This chapter provides a profile of these institutions and exposes the thinking behind the scientific-technological base that existed in the country up to the late 1970s. It also discusses the problems that emerged in the 1980s and persist today.

Tables 1, 2, and 3 classify industrial technology institutions and centres in Brazil by type, date of establishment, regional distribution, and size (number of employees). Research institutions run by federal and state governments are worth considering given their number and size. Although the number of university centres appears to be higher (28 against 25), it is obvious that they have fewer employees than government institutions. Other factors that must be taken into account are the concentration of institutions in the southeastern and southern region and the low participation of the private sector in technological research activities.

Table 1. Distribution of industrial-technological research institutions in Brazil (1985) according to founding date and institutional category.

Founding date

Federal and state institution

Private institution

University- related centres

Industry supported institutions


Up to 1955






























Source: Gusmao (1987, p. 29).

Table 2 Distribution of industrial-technological research institutions in Brazil (1985) according to region and institutional category.


Federal and state institution

Private institution

University- related centres

Industry supported institutions






































Source: Gusamo (1987, p. 30).

Table 3 Distribution of industrial-technological research institutions (% in parentheses) in Brazil (1985) according to number of employees and institutional category.

In assessing the current situation of technological research institutions in Brazil, it is clear that the relationship between government research institutions and the industrial sector is precarious and interrupted. Although there are some successful cases, the activities of most research centres do not meet industrial needs.

The problem lies mainly with public-sector technological research institutions. Other types of centres have less conflictual situations in spite of current problems. These are the captive centres of industries such as auto parts, for example; sectoral institutions for technological research in state-supported monopolies such as oil, telecommunications, and electricity; and, finally, university foundations with links to the productive sector, such as the one at the Universidade de Sao Paulo.

A common problem of research institutions is that they deviate from their original objectives. It is true that some so-called pure research can be carried out at technological research institutes, and it is also possible for research institutions to complement the training of human resources according to the needs of specific fields However, these activities should be seen as secondary to the primary objectives of technological research institutions. The costs associated with additional activities should not consume more than 20% of institutional budgets under normal conditions.

The anomalies were verified in several Brazilian research institutes that duplicated the role of the university. The constant changes in government programs imposed on those institutions and the obsolete laboratories made the situation worse. Researchers and politicians tend to be more concerned with the success or failure of research projects than with analyzing the performance of research institutions. Gómez (in Chapter 2) reminds us how important it is to study the performance of research institutes and the variables associated with their creation, development, and performance. In any analysis one must bear in mind the objectives of the institution (specialized versus diffused); the kind of technological information generated (routine versus creative); the type of penalties (individual versus collective); and, finally, the environment surrounding the institution (calm atmosphere or competitiveness).

The majority of institutions mentioned have not become instruments to support the technological development of Brazilian industry. As Souza Neto (1986, p. 92) has pointed out:

Industries have used other means to obtain technology... Acknowledging the heterogeneity among institutes, there were few successful examples of development and technological transfer for the national industry and, even less so, cases of contracts for joint development action.

Data from Souza Neto shows that state research institutions most frequently relate to industry through analysis, essays, consultancies, and technical assistance. These institutions are not sufficiently structured or instrumental to provide leadership in the generation or transfer of technology. Even successful cases have not resulted in awards for the researchers involved. These institutions must increase efforts to strengthen relations with industry and develop new technologies. The strategy adopted must give them autonomy and flexibility; it must also function to diversify and strengthen the financial participation of government.

These institutes were conceived as government instruments to support the technological development of national enterprise. However, this objective has not been achieved. The researchers' fees and the configuration of the institutions have precluded attainment of their goals. They have ended up reproducing parameters of many Brazilian universities that do not favour relationships with the productive sector.

Brazil's National Space Research Institute (INPE) was created by the federal government in 1961. Today, with 1 500 employees, INPE is in charge of carrying out civilian research and development activities related to space and its applications.

A study by Kataoka et al. (1987) suggests that researchers are the main source of project ideas used by institutions. These ideas may be inspired by technical publications and exchanges with other organizations, or based on previous training and experience. This immediately leads to the "science-push" position. To benefit from research efforts, the community of users must ensure that institutional activities are transferred. This has in fact occurred with two important products from INPE, meteorology and remote sensors.

In Brazil, activities related to space technology do not have a high enough volume of production to motivate major industry participation. Other countries developing space technology, such as France and the United States, have adopted better interaction mechanisms between research centres and industry.

In Brazil, a split occurred between INPE and industry when INPE adopted, in its technological segment, mechanisms similar to those used in space science and in applications (meteorology and remote sensors). Government hesitation and changes in the state structure also helped to discourage interaction with industry.

The position of Brazilian industry on research institutions has been highlighted in a study by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI 1988, p. 19). It states that there is little integration between universities, research institutes, and productive enterprise. It also argues that in spite of the existence of some centres of excellence with a highly reasonable level of integration with industrial enterprises, there is still a rather high lack of communication between the research activities conducted in universities or research institutes and industrial enterprises; 65% of the entrepreneurs participating in the Brazilian Industry Competitiveness Evaluation Group consider that the stare of such integration is inadequate.

Several factors inhibit a productive relationship between research institutions and industry:

· Industry's lack of preparation to receive development, in terms of technical training;

· Lack of integration between industry and the research institution from a project's inception (teams should work together, using the facilities of the research institute);

· Problems with adequate technical documents;

· Uncertainty about the nature of the enterprise to receive technologies or processes developed by research institutes;

· Difficulties in contractual negotiations surrounding the transfer of the technology between the institute and the entity receiving it; and

· Limited institutional effort expended in stimulating and strengthening technology transfer and the link to industry.

From the standpoint of industry, the consequences of the separation between research institutions and enterprises are

· The existence of techniques developed by research institutions that have not been commercially explored;

· The presence of an interaction that allows the research system to explore matters with the capacity of economic application; and

· The presence of a rigid entrepreneurial attitude that is not inclined to look for technological solutions outside company walls.

Kataoka et al. (1987) also looked at the other side of the coin by analyzing a sample of three technological research institutions. The most serious problems and consequences identified were

· The departure of qualified personnel due to low salaries reduces the level of technical experience;

· The lack of formal technical documents during project implementation makes technological transfer more difficult for the client;

· Bureaucratic obstacles to importing equipment needed for projects discourages the adoption of new research and development lines and inhibits the technological innovation process;

· Cumbersome management practices and limited use of consistent criteria and techniques for evaluation, planning, and project control result in poorly conceived projects and cost overruns;

· A lack of specificity in allocating project funds means that allocation is done without a plan and only when needs arise. This can result in