Does technology affect network structure? - A quantitative analysis of collaborative research projects in two specific EU programmes

Thomas Roediger-Schluga & Bernhard Dachs


The promotion of collaborative R&D through Framework Programmes is a top priority of European RTD policy. However, despite the considerable sums involved, surprisingly little is known about the structure of the resulting research networks. Arguing that the underlying technological regime critically affects the structure of collaborative R&D, this article examines the structure and topology of collaborative research networks in the telecommunications and the agro-industrial industry in two specific programmes of the 4th EU Framework Programme. We find systematic differences which we attribute to differences in the underlying knowledge base, the research trajectories pursued in EU-funded R&D and the organisation of knowledge production in the two industries. As expected on the basis of prior research, we show that collaborative research projects involve a larger number of partners and require greater funding in the telecommunications industry, and that actors from science are positioned more prominently in the agro-industrial collaborative R&D network. Contrary to expectations, we find fewer and less intense interactions between science and industry in the agro-industrial industry. We provide a tentative explanation for this result and discuss policy implications.

JEL Classification: O33, O38, C69

Keywords: framework programmes, research collaborations, technological regime, sectoral innovation system, social network analysis, science-industry interactions

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872