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The European Center of Science Productivity: Research Universities and Institutes in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom

The Century of Science

ISBN: 978-1-78714-470-5, eISBN: 978-1-78714-469-9

ISSN: 1479-3679

Publication date: 1 September 2017



Growth in scientific production and productivity over the 20th century resulted significantly from three major countries in European science – France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Charting the development of universities and research institutes that bolster Europe’s key position in global science, we uncover both stable and dynamic patterns of productivity in the fields of STEM, including health, over the 20th century. Ongoing internationalization of higher education and science has been accompanied by increasing competition and collaboration. Despite policy goals to foster innovation and expand research capacity, policies cannot fully account for the differential growth of scientific productivity we chart from 1975 to 2010.

Approach and Research Design

Our sociological neo-institutional framework facilitates explanation of differences in institutional settings, organizational forms, and organizations that produce the most European research. We measure growth of published peer-reviewed articles indexed in Thomson Reuters’ Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE).


Organizational forms vary in their contributions, with universities accounting for nearly half but rising in France; ultrastable in Germany at four-fifths, and growing at around two-thirds in the United Kingdom. Differing institutionalization pathways created the conditions necessary for continuous, but varying growth in scientific production and productivity in the European center of global science. The research university is key in all three countries, and we identify organizations leading in research output.


Few studies explicitly compare across time, space, and different levels of analysis. We show how important European science has been to overall global science production and productivity. In-depth comparisons, especially the organizational fields and forms in which science is produced, are crucial if policy is to support research and development.



Powell, J.J.W. and Dusdal, J. (2017), "The European Center of Science Productivity: Research Universities and Institutes in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom", The Century of Science (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 33), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 55-83.



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