Search regimes in the medical devices sector: A characterisation of the knowledge development process
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This thesis is inspired by the notion that over the last two decades the knowledge development process has been changing. The dichotomy between basic and applied research is disappearing and knowledge is increasingly recognised as a driver of economic growth and as a resource to solve societal challenges. As a result the science system is transforming and the attention of policymakers on the role of knowledge within society increases. Policymakers, however, tend to overlook the complexity of research policy, copying best practices in research policy from one field to another. These measures can be expected to fail since scientific fields exhibit distinct and localised dynamics that respond differently to government intervention. This thesis aims to empirically validate the changes in the knowledge development process and draw implications for science policy. The medical devices sector is used as a case study. Due to aging of the population, the pressure on healthcare is increasing. The development of new medical devices is seen as an important way to increase the productivity of the healthcare professionals and thereby relieving the pressure on the system. In the Netherlands the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative (IMDI) was launched to stimulate this development. However, the nature of the research process this initiative attempts to stimulate is unexplored. To analyse the changes in the knowledge development process this thesis builds on the search regime concept of Bonaccorsi (2004), which is “a summary description of the growth pattern of scientific knowledge and the actual carrying out of scientific research” in a field (p.2). Analysing the medical devices’ search regime will point out which of the changes in the knowledge development process described in innovation literature have an empirically recognisable counterpart and which factors should be considered when developing science policy. This thesis uses bibliometric analysis to analyse the medical devices’ search regime and uses interviews to validate the results. This analysis points out that the knowledge development process is indeed changing. Knowledge development is becoming an ever-more collaborative process at an increasingly international scale. However, academic institutions remain a central position within these networks as institutional environments are only marginally overlapping. In addition this thesis draws policy implications from the search regime and evaluates the IMDI. This thesis concludes that the IMDI attempts to increase multidisciplinarity in the sector to overcome the European Paradox, but fails to take the fundamental role of the institutional features in the knowledge development process into account.