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  • D e G

    raaf, Rinnooy K an &

    M olenaar (eds)

    The D utch N

    ational Research A genda in Perspective

    A Reflection on Research and Science Policy in Practice

    The Dutch National Research Agenda in Perspective

    1116 NWA OMSLAG AUP 100X150MM.indd 1 04-02-16 10:30Edited by Beatrice de Graaf, Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Henk Molenaar

  • The Dutch National Research Agenda in Perspective

  • The Dutch National Research Agenda in Perspective

    A Reflection on Research and Science Policy in Practice

    Edited by Beatrice de Graaf, Alexander Rinnooy Kan

    and Henk Molenaar

    Amsterdam University Press

  • Cover illustration: DimarDesign

    Cover design: Coördesign, Leiden Lay-out: Crius Group, Hulshout

    Amsterdam University Press English-language titles are distributed in the US and Canada by the University of Chicago Press.

    isbn 978 94 6298 279 6 e-isbn 978 90 4853 282 7 (pdf) doi 10.5117/9789462982796 nur 600

    Creative Commons License CC BY NC ND (

    All authors / Amsterdam University Press B.V., Amsterdam 2017

    Some rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, any part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise).

  • Contents

    Foreword by Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science 9

    Introduction 11 Beatrice de Graaf, Henk Molenaar, and Alexander Rinnooy Kan

    The Art and Science of Asking Questions 19 José van Dijck

    A Plurality of Voices 31 The Dutch National Research Agenda in Dispute

    Henk Molenaar

    National Research Agendas 47 An International Comparison

    Wim de Haas

    The Role of Universities of Applied Sciences in Implementing the Dutch National Research Agenda 61

    Daan Andriessen and Marieke Schuurmans

    Steering Scientif ic Research and Reaping its Benefits 75 Reflections on Dutch Science Policy

    Coenraad Krijger and Maarten Prak

    Managing what Cannot be Managed 87 On the Possibility of Science Policy

    Barend van der Meulen

    The Art of Making Connections 101 Ed Brinksma

    Too Big to Innovate? 121 The Sense and Nonsense of Big Programmatic Research

    Brian Burgoon, Marieke de Goede, Marlies Glasius, and Eric Schliesser

  • The Art of Asking Questions, and why Scientists Are Better at it 137 Herman van de Werfhorst

    Skip the Agenda Building 147 Let the Wisdom of the Crowd Drive a Dynamic Tapestry of Science

    Marten Scheffer and Johan Bollen

    An Economic Perspective on the Dutch National Research Agenda 155 Roel van Elk and Bas ter Weel

    What is the Good of Government Interference in Science? 167 A Question from Late Nineteenth-Century Germany

    Herman Paul

    Free-range Poultry Holdings 181 Living the Academic Life in a Context of Normative Uncertainty

    Beatrice de Graaf

    A National Research Agenda and the Self-understanding of Modern Universities 193

    Rutger Claassen and Marcus Düwell

    No University without Diversity 209 The Dynamic Ecosystem of Scientif ic and Social Innovation

    André Knottnerus

    Inspiration 221 Louise Gunning-Schepers

    Process of Developing the Dutch National Research Agenda 225

    Index 239

  • Figures

    Figure 1 The linear model 103 Figure 2 Stokes’ quadrants 105 Figure 3 Stokes’ dynamic model 107 Figure 4 Extension of the Stokes model 109 Figure 5 Squaring the golden triangle 116


    Table 1 Characterisation of innovation policy in several countries 49 Table 2 National research prioritization: characterization for

    f ifteen countries 51 Table 3 Prioritized themes in national research agendas (in ital-

    ics: themes mentioned f ive times or more; bold: some notable research themes, for various reasons) 53

    Table 4 Process of development and implementation of national research agendas 55

    Table 1 Key f igures for Dutch universities of applied science (2014) 62

    List of Tables and Figures

  • Foreword by Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science

    As I see it, imagination and connection are the two most important char- acteristics of science and the Dutch National Research Agenda.

    Imagination is a vital prerequisite for developing new perspectives in scientif ic research. After all, we are now developing the knowledge we will need in the future.

    Imagination f inds expression in the vast number of questions posed by scientists, citizens, businesses, and civil society organisations as part of the Dutch National Research Agenda – close to 12,000 questions on a wide variety of themes and topics. These range from the human significance of art to organ- ising healthcare on the basis of unique and individual characteristics, showing the depth of people’s interest in and commitment to the world of science: one of the main reasons why the Dutch National Research Agenda exists.

    The questions the Agenda addresses also illustrate the challenges that science is facing in the years to come, and the essential nature of connection and cooperation between sectors and disciplines.

    If we want to f ind answers that have an impact on society, I f irmly believe that we need to come up with new, creative combinations. Combinations between technology and art, between historical roots and futuristic concepts, facts and imagination, science and the working world, new and existing knowledge. The Dutch National Research Agenda invites us to make these connections and to embrace cooperation throughout the chain of knowledge, in particular with society.

    One inspiring example is the collaboration between museums, universities, universities of applied sciences, and industry, aimed at developing innovative products on the basis of long-established museum collections. One research group is using the collection of the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden to de- velop natural sweeteners, which can be sustainably cultivated and help prevent diabetes. Museum collections are also a source of expertise, for example helping customs officials to detect endangered wood species in musical instruments.

    The essays in this volume, all of which reflect upon the Dutch National Research Agenda, can be seen as an ode to imagination and connection. They are also an ode to critical inquiry, encouraging us to continue to interrogate the types of questions we ask.

    Dr Jet Bussemaker Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands

  • Introduction Beatrice de Graaf, Henk Molenaar, and Alexander Rinnooy Kan

    Asking questions

    ‘What is the proper use of the word “no” and what isn’t?’ ‘Would it be possible to create a funicular to the moon?’ Questions like these are more likely to be asked by curious students or children than by sophisticated researchers. And yet this type of unbounded curiosity remains one of the main driv- ers behind fundamental scientif ic research. That is why these and nearly 12,000 other questions were all admitted onto a nationwide platform with the intent to aggregate the national curiosity of the Dutch – a platform that was designated to become the Dutch National Research Agenda.

    Both the agenda’s format and process were unique in their kind. All earlier national efforts undertaken in other countries had opted for a top- down format, in which the customary committee of wise advisors produced a respectable but rather predictable outcome. The bottom-up approach favoured in the Netherlands was hotly contested and heavily debated. But in the end, it produced a rich research menu, identifying a range of issues that appeal to the research community as well as to the general public (see Annex for a description of the process of developing the Dutch National Research Agenda).

    Thus, one of the characterizing features of the Dutch National Research Agenda was precisely that it was created through public consultation. Nowadays, this sort of consultation is used commonly in a variety of areas. It is, of course, used by business enterprises to assess and gauge consumer preferences and desires, and it also f igures in political decision-making processes such as crafting a national referendum, or in other forms of participatory democracy. As such, the format is not new at all. However, for academic science and research, ‘citizen science’ is a relatively new notion. Crowdsourcing has only recently become a resource for long-term funding for new research. As Ed Brinksma points out in his contribution, the use of the internet has irrevocably speeded up and expanded public engagement with academic research and innovation far and wide. Increasingly, research projects do not only take shape through the interaction of government, sci- ence, and industry; citizens – be they amateur scientist, investor, consumer, societal stakeholder, inventor, or entrepreneur – and the public at large have become contributing voices as well.

  • 12 BeATRice De GRAAf, HeNk MoleNAAR, AND AlexANDeR RiNNooy k AN

    The desire to provide public knowledge, to generate scientif ic insights for and with society and industry, is not a new phenomenon as such. Throughout the centuries, the university was the very place where clerical elites, politi- cians, state representatives,