Making base funding work: why and how?

3 Mar 2022 17:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The next in our series of papers that look at the deep issues in science policy is up. How can we use the insights identified so far to get the best possible way forward for the research system, with the least disruption?


Previous briefs addressing Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Green Paper evolve from awareness that the pandemic has raised serious concerns about the sustainability of today’s research institutions and funding systems. Aotearoa’s highly contestable funding raises concerns that our system may be among the most unstable internationally and prone to the problems observed in increasingly hypercompetitive research systems worldwide. Hypercompetition is associated with poor behaviours and mediocrity, undermines diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and reduces the likelihood of funding innovative projects and careers. How can we build more collaborative, connected careers within research systems appropriate for taking society on innovative journeys to solve the biggest challenges such as climate change and protecting endangered biodiversity? This paper and previous work describes analysis to arrive at design suggestions for an innovative base funding proposal that better achieves the historical intentions to meet national research needs that have evolved considerably over 30 years. The proposed system would reallocate existing and possibly additional government funding to support 30–50% of researchers’ salaries and related costs. The intent is to enhance the overall well being of the research workforce and knowledge systems by creating or incentivising a number of features that overcome current dilemmas, improving the responsiveness, connectivity and use of research within Aotearoa New Zealand, though self-organisation following Ostrom’s principles of common resource pool allocation. The proposed scheme has advantages over the current highly contestable system, and is expected to outperform tenure-driven systems.

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