How to manage complex processes of engagement

The League of European Research Universities LERU has just released a new report on how research can effectively engage towards society.

The report draws attention to two of society’s grand challenges – health and ageing. LERU thus aims to stimulate the discussion in Europe on the precise role of scientific advice in framing policy.  The publication is the product of a LERU and Science-Business symposium held earlier in 2009 with EU policy makers and LERU experts. The meeting, entitled “How long will you live?” drew on case studies from health and ageing. LERU has identified the following set of 15 keyfactors for ensuring that the processes of engagement between researchers, policy makers and society are fruitful and effective.

  1. Universities – use their wealth of wisdom
  2. Be prepared – be able to fill the ideas gap
  3. Serendipity – if the time is right capitalise on the moment
  4. Evidence – make sure it matters
  5. Policy makers – understand the personal background of the politicians
  6. Communication – ensure research find-ings are accessible
  7. Provide answers – not more problems
  8. Relevance – ensure Europe invests in the right research
  9. Integration – anchor research in society
  10. Foresight – look at what is coming
  11. Distinguish – between push and pull
  12. Long-term culture – is required to ensure adequate data
  13. New bodies and new posts – to help impart the findings of research to policy makers
  14. Mapping – Europe’s science advisory bodies
  15. Focus – on Knowledge Transfer

Although I think it is very good to work together on developing good criteria for the engagement between research and society, from my perspective these lists of keyfactors are much too general to be effective for research policies at an institutional level. I think it would be better to develop more actionable concepts and indicators for research organizations to work with. But maybe this will be the next step of LERU in trying to help their member institutions to deal with this difficult task of really engage with society.


About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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