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In dialogue with science’s social contract with society: Rhetoric and reality in Taiwan’s university research funding policy

Yu-Ching Kuo (National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan)
Sheng-Ju Chan (Graduate Institute of Education, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi City, Taiwan)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




The science policy has been at the core business of contemporary nations, and determining how to establish a constructive contract between the wider society and the science/academia community has become a continuous challenge and major task. The purpose of this paper is to draw on Bush’s (1945) classical works and other scholarly stances in an attempt to reveal how research funding discourses and practices in Taiwanese universities have taken shape and been implemented.


Against this broader context, the authors examine the main elements of official documents and significant statistical evidence from recent years.


In summary, basic research investment has comparatively underperformed while the business sector has contributed relatively higher expenditures to the university sector at the international level. A strong state-led approach has been identified as the key characteristics of research funding policy for industrial development/economic growth or social problem solving. Although not making an effort to “save the nation,” the state has been dominant in steering the direction of priority areas and issues for university research in order to achieve better international competitiveness and, in turn, nation building.

Research limitations/implications

The authors examine the impact of the interplay between science’s social contract with society and rhetorical devices on the institutionalization of the university research funding policy framework in Taiwan. The exploration of this interplay leads the authors to elaborate tensions between the government, industry, universities, and research communities in Taiwan. As in other contexts, the race between social accountability and academic autonomy has evolved to be a significant element of these tensions in Taiwan. For better reflecting the public needs or social demands, a greater autonomy for the science community is desirable and favorable for long-term development.


The science policy is a rarely addressed but critical issue for the past two decades. Along with the increasing demand on value for money publicly funded research, societal accountability, and the international competition caused by league tables and cutting-edge technology innovation, this paper draws on classical and current mainstream discourses of science’s contract with society by investigating into Taiwanese research funding in the higher education sector. All findings are highly original for theoretical and practical implications.



Kuo, Y.-C. and Chan, S.-J. (2018), "In dialogue with science’s social contract with society: Rhetoric and reality in Taiwan’s university research funding policy", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 127-143.



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