Why New Hybrid Organizations are Formed: Historical Perspectives on Epistemic and Academic Drift

Minerva 51 (2):171-194 (2013)
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By comparing three types of hybrid organizations—18th-century scientific academies, 19th-century institutions of higher vocational education, and 20th-century industrial research institutes—it is the purpose here to answer the question of why new hybrid organizations are continuously formed. Traditionally, and often implicitly, it is often assumed that emerging groups of potential knowledge users have their own organizational preferences and demands influencing the setup of new hybrid organizations. By applying the concepts epistemic and academic drift, it will be argued here, however, that internal organizational dynamics are just as important as changing historical conjunctures in the uses of science when understanding why new hybrid organizations are formed. Only seldom have older hybrid organizations sought to make themselves relevant to new categories of knowledge users as the original ones have been marginalized. Instead, they have tended to accede to ideals supported by traditional academic organizations with higher status in terms of knowledge management, primarily universities. Through this process, demand has been generated for the founding of new hybrid organizations rather than the transformation of existing ones. Although this study focuses on Swedish cases, it is argued that since Sweden strove consistently to implement existing international policy trends during the periods in question, the observations may be generalized to apply to other national and transnational contexts



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