1. Addressing the role of research and innovation in times of crises: institutional and individual responses over time

Convenors: Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro, Laura Cruz-Castro, Adelheid Holl, Catalina Martinez, Ruth Rama and Lous Sanz-Menéndez.

Session type: Full paper and speed talk sessions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a recession with long-standing consequences on growth and employment. The most immediate precedent of an economic turndown, the Great Recession, shows that policies may overreact by cutting R&D budgets and increasing administrative control of public research systems (Cruz-Castro and Sanz-Menéndez, 2016). However, the example of the Great Recession also reveals that, in particular regions, public opinion towards science and technology as a policy priority becomes more favourable during crises (Sanz-Menéndez and Van Ryzin, 2015), regional governments can effectively sustain business R&D efforts despite the difficulties (Cruz-Castro et al., 2018) and some regions and firms are more able to adapt to the situation than other (García-Sánchez and Rama, 2020; Holl, 2018). In addition, crises can be associated to increases in scientific output stemming out of university-industry cooperation, relative to business R&D spending (Azagra-Caro et al., 2019), and to quality gains of business scientific output (Gómez-Aguayo et al., 2019).

The objective of this track proposal is to call for contributions around whether this search for equilibrium between negative and positive consequences of the Great Recession on science and innovation is happening also during the COVID-19 Recession. The analysis of other economic crises before the COVID-19 one, or comparative analyses between this and former recessions would also lie within the scope.

We expect theoretical and empirical contributions typical from the field of Science and Innovation Studies on economic, managerial, geographic, sociologic and policy aspects, as well as indicator-oriented works. We are particularly interested in studies addressing the effects of crises on organizations and analysing diverse organisational responses in times of crises, where ‘organisations’ is broadly understood as public research organisations, universities, technology centres, research institutions and firms.

We also aim at broadening the picture with research from psychology and cultural studies (e.g. do science and innovation agents exhibit particular emotions, motivations or other traits according to their reactions during crises? Do they use artistic and cultural activities to increase idea generation and diffusion? Can representations of science and innovation in culture tell us something about how to face crises?).

Different theoretical approaches on science and innovation can accommodate the relationship between crisis, research and innovation and are welcome to this call (e.g. academic engagement, productive interactions, quintuple helix model, transformative change, responsible research and innovation, etc.).



We acknowledge support from the Coordinated Research Projects Research organizations’ responses to crisis: universities, research institutions and firms (CSO2016-79045-C2-1-R) and University-industry research outputs, academic knowledge spillovers and the economic crisis (CSO2016-79045-C2-1-R), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.



Azagra-Caro, J. M., Tijssen, R. J., Tur, E. M., & Yegros-Yegros, A. (2019). University-industry scientific production and the Great Recession. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 139, 210-220.

Cruz-Castro, L., & Sanz-Menéndez, L. (2016). The effects of the economic crisis on public research: Spanish budgetary policies and research organizations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 113, 157-167.

Cruz-Castro, L., Holl, A., Rama, R., & Sanz-Menéndez, L. (2018). Economic crisis and company R&D in Spain: do regional and policy factors matter? Industry and Innovation, 25(8), 729-751.

García-Sánchez, A., & Rama, R. (2020). Foreign ownership and domestic cooperation for innovation during good and harsh economic times. International Journal of Multinational Corporation Strategy, 3(1), 4-25.

Gómez-Aguayo, A. M., Azagra-Caro, J.M. and Benito-Amat, C. (2019). Use me when you need me: firms’ co-creation output with universities and the economic cycle, mimeo. Presented at the Technology Transfer Society (T2S) Conference 2019, Toronto.

Holl, A. (2018). Local employment growth patterns and the Great Recession: The case of Spain. Journal of Regional Science, 58(4), 837-863.

Sanz-Menéndez, L., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2015). Economic crisis and public attitudes toward science: A study of regional differences in Spain. Public Understanding of Science, 24(2), 167-182.