Policy Reform and Research Performance in Countries in Transition: a Comparative Case Study of Latvia and Estonia

  • Dace Rambaka

Student thesis: Phd


Several studies have been published postulating the emergence of the post-modern research system, the research system in transition and the new production of knowledge (Cozzens et al. 1990, Rip and van der Meulen 1996, Gibbons et al. 1994). However, these studies have been largely concerned with the gradual transformation of well-established research systems of Western industrialised countries. The radical transformations of the research systems of Central and Eastern European countries (CEE), following the collapse of the communist regime at the beginning of the 1990s, have attracted a smaller number of scholars (Balazs et al. 1995; Schimank 1995; Radosevic 1999; Dyker and Radosevic 1999, 2000). Prior to this, the developments in scientific organisation have been considered to be either an issue of evolution (in advanced or industrialised countries) or, as in the case of developing countries - a development issue. However, the research/innovation systems of CEE in the 1990s were neither underdeveloped, nor following the pattern of evolution of other industrialised countries, but were forced to change as a consequence of changes in the political and economic order. Furthermore, eighteen years after the fall of the communist regime, the research systems of CEE have developed at different rates, along different trajectories, despite similar preconditions for change.Taking into account the aforementioned considerations, the study investigates two research systems in transition, those of Latvia and Estonia, which along with the Czech Republic have initiated the most radical reorganisation of their research systems. The choice of countries is based on the realisation that despite, at first glance, similar pre-conditions for change, as well as similar demographic factors, political and economic systems, and institutional structures of scientific organisation (which makes these countries easily comparable); these systems appear to have evolved along different trajectories. Clear differences are seen in terms of total state funding allocated for research, as well as contributions from the private sector, R&D intensity, research output in terms of publication, citation rates and patents, collaborative projects and publications (Kristapsons, Martinson and Dagyte 2003). Based on these indicators, Estonia precedes Latvia on all counts; possible explanations for this are the diversified funding mechanisms available, and the multitude of assessments of research and development on the basis of which policies were formed (Kristapsons, Martinson and Dagyte 2003).In view of the overall goal of explaining different rates/paths of development of similarly positioned national research systems, the purpose of the study is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to paint a comprehensive picture of the Latvian and Estonian research systems and, secondly, it compares and contrasts them in terms of the reforms initiated and the outputs, outcomes and impacts of these reforms. Methodologically, the study is largely qualitative in nature and it has been deemed appropriate to present the two countries as separate case studies, yet retaining a common analytical frame to gather primary and secondary data. Secondary data has been collected by drawing on the multitude of archival and documentary evidence and statistical databases available; primary data was collected by conducting semi-structured interviews.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMaria Nedeva (Supervisor) & Luke Georghiou (Supervisor)


  • Research Evaluation
  • Science Policy
  • Latvia
  • Transition Countries
  • Research Systems
  • Estonia

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