The structure of R&D collaboration networks in the European Framework Programmes

Thomas Roediger-Schluga & Michael J. Barber


Using a large and novel data source, we study the structure of R&D collaboration net-works in the first five EU Framework Programmes (FPs). The networks display proper-ties typical for complex networks, including scale-free degree distributions and the small-world property. Structural features are common across FPs, indicating similar network formation mechanisms despite changes in governance rules. Several findings point towards the existence of a stable core of interlinked actors since the early FPs with integration increasing over time. This core consists mainly of universities and research organisations. We observe assortative mixing by degree of projects, but not by degree of organisations. Unexpectedly, we find only weak association between central projects and project size, suggesting that different types of projects attract different groups of actors. In particular, large projects appear to have included few of the pivotal actors in the networks studied. Central projects only partially mirror funding priorities, indicating field-specific differences in network structures. The paper concludes with an agenda for future research.

JEL Classification: L14, O38, Z13 Keywords: R&D collaboration, EU Framework Programmes, complex networks, small world effect, centrality measures, European Research Area

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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