Time For Scientists To Own CRIs
TIME FOR SCIENTISTS TO OWN CRIS
"If we want to fire up the knowledge economy then we need to unleash the entrepreneur within each CRI scientist" said Dr Andrew West, the outgoing President of the Association of Crown Research Institutes (ACRI).
"A large part of any knowledge economy relies on science & technology and research & development. Ireland realises this. It has just announced a scheme to massively reward scientists for the overseas research projects that they bring back to operate inside Ireland. The Irish Government believes that wealth creating firms coalesce around scientific and technical entrepreneurs" observed Dr West
"If New Zealand is going, itself, to create a knowledge-based economy in this sort of global environment then we have to provide far more incentive to our scientists to go the extra mile. There have been many ideas bandied around about how to do this, but they all suffer a significant drawback in some form or other.
"However, a very successful model already exists and it has existed for probably 3,000 years or more. It is the professional partnership, or more recently, the workers cooperative. If we are to keep our research institutes with their present coherent and productive focus then the obvious incentive is to allow the workers - the scientists, technicians and science managers - to own the equity rather than break them up piecemeal in minor privatisations as individuals or teams pull out.
"In a partnership when the institute grows in value due solely to the intellectual and leadership effort of the staff so too does the reward to the staff. Presently CRIs operate under the corporate model where labour works for capital. I'm stating that we need the reverse, where capital works for labour. It's about time !
Dr West said that New Zealand does not lack for investment capital. Rather, it has a shortage of robust ideas in which to invest. This means it is the scientist and technologist that, ultimately, have the greatest influence. They need to be rewarded commensurately. A recent research paper from the USA has illustrated that in economic terms scientists pay for the privilege of doing science. "How much longer will that happen ?" asks Dr West
"The partnership model is the most durable organisational form for a profession like science. Allowing scientists to purchase their CRIs is the obvious and now overdue solution" said Dr West