How Europe Shapes Academic Research: insights from participation in European Union Framework Programmes


Emilia Primeri CERIS-CNR, Via dei Taurini, 19, 00185 Rome, Italy,

Emanuela Reale, CERIS-CNR Via dei Taurini, 19, 00185 Rome, Italy,


This article describes the effects of participating in European Union Framework Programmes (EUFPs) at the level of research units and researchers. We consider EUFPs as policy instruments that contribute to the Europeanisation of academic research and study the changes they produce with respect to: 1) the organisation and activities of Departments, 2) the type of knowledge produced, and 3) the ways of doing research. The analysis is based on a case study of the Sapienza University in Rome. We also discuss the extent to which EUFPs produce different effects at the level of scientific fields.

This pilot study analyses changes driven by EUFPs from an institutional perspective and uses the concept of institutionalisation to explain how these changes are translated into rules and practices by research units and researchers. Our preliminary investigation supports the idea that EUFPs do not trigger a process of Europeanisation and lead, within academic institutions, to highly diversified institutional responses by scientific fields rather than to undifferentiated ones. They strengthen leading research groups and Departments, already competitive at the EU level, by enhancing existing international behaviours and practices. However, they do not support and, at times, even decrease competition opportunities for less experienced participants and they do not promote the participation of new groups. Moreover, the absence of relevant organisational changes at the University level and the lack of incentives for EUFP participation seem to strengthen these trends. What emerges is the need for decisions at the University level, taking into account differences across scientific groups.