Government laboratories : institutional variety, change and design space

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Kinder, Jeffrey S.




This study examines Canadian federal government laboratories to better
understand their institutional variety, changes in their institutional form, and their
institutional design space. Three research questions are addressed: 1) h o w have the
institutional forms of government laboratories been reconfigured during the period 1990-
2005? 2) what are the laboratories' mandates and h o w do these reconfigurations affect
the labs' ability to fulfill their mandates? and 3) h o w might science policy analysis better
take account ofthe importance, diversity and complexity of government laboratories?
Three main arguments are advanced through the analysis of the evolution of
Canadian science policy and through case studies of three Environment Canada
laboratories. The first argument is that the traditional "make or buy" and related quasimarket
lens on policy analysis related to government laboratories does not adequately
capture the increasingly formal network-based approaches, both within the federal
government (intra-sector networks) and with other sectors (inter-sector networks), to the
delivery of government science. Accordingly, a broader "make, buy, or collaborate" mix
of choices is called for.
The second argument is that government laboratories as institutions exhibit a
remarkable degree of diversity that is often not clearly reflected in Canadian science
policy. Policy analysis suffers from a failure to:
• understand the multiple (and potentially conflicting) mandates of government
appreciate that formal policy-induced networks are not necessarily the same as the
informal networks that have long characterized scientific activity; and,
recognize that formal networks and quasi-market approaches, while valuable and
appropriate in many ways, can create problems for the labs in delivering their
diverse mandates.
The third argument is that policy and institutional analysis of government
laboratories requires an analytical approach that considers their core features as
hierarchies, quasi-markets and networks in the context of their mandates, but that goes
beyond this basic framework to differentiate inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral networks and
reveal the more complex "institutional design space" for government laboratories. A
specific purpose of this study, therefore, is to develop a typology that can be useful in
gathering more policy-relevant information about government laboratories and in
designing informed policies for the provision of government science.


Laboratories - Government policy - Canada
Science and state - Canada




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Public Policy

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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