The Governance Challenge

Resources belong to the men who colonise them

Academia and science are expected to be self-policing and self-correcting.  However, incentives throughout the funding system induce stakeholders to pretend misconduct does not happen, or worse (TED: Barry Schwartz And The Importance Of Practical Wisdom). 

Before we try to figure out how to address the incentive structure, the manner in which political influence changed the role of the dominant corporate actors in research intensive industries is worthy of reflection.


How we got to now

Examples of bias, misrepresentation, ethical shortcomings and other conflicts of interest in research go back decades. Over time, the increasing sophistication of the means by which conflicts of interest are exploited in research selection, scoping, performance and reporting and the strategic deployment of manipulative efforts through the halls of academic, political and corporate power can be traced. They undermine the trust necessary to establish cross-disciplinary research partnerships and investment vehicles.

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Those examples are drawn from recent history. The further back you look, the more you find the same issue, the same exploitation and the same effort to thwart any substantive redesign of the governance protocols applied, or the points in the system at which change can be introduced.


Where to from here?

There has never been a better time to build a robust, transparent system, that adapts to the diversity, risk-tolerance and political will of the people operating within the wider research community, and those depending on it to deliver the future.