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The Reform of China's Science and Technology Award System and Its Problems -- Based on the Theory of Actor Network

Abstract:In order to improve the national science and technology award system and return to the purpose of the award system to encourage innovation and promote scientific research, in 2017, the State Council issued the "Plan on Deepening the Reform of the Science and Technology Award System", which proposed the change of the evaluation method from the "quota system" to the "nomination system", Establish a fixed-standard evaluation system, clarify the responsibilities of expert evaluation committees and government departments, and improve the integrity system of science and technology awards. How to understand these reform measures and their possible functions and problems, based on the perspective of actor network theory, this paper compares and analyzes the characteristics of the construction and development of the actor network in the evaluation process of the National Science and Technology Award before and after the reform. The study found that after the implementation of the nomination system, although the "mandatory access point" in the evaluation process has been weakened, the phenomenon of "recruiting" and "mobilizing" stakeholders, including the presenter, the award unit and other actors, has not changed fundamentally, and the utilitarian orientation of the national science and technology award still exists. In the hierarchical science and technology award structure, policy makers need to further study and promote the deepening of reform in order to keep the key actors in the award system independent, reduce the interaction and consultation of interests of actors in the award network, and return to the original intention of the system to encourage innovation and create a fair and just competitive environment.


Key words:National Science and Technology Award Evaluation; Actor Network; Quota recommend System; Human Actor; Non-human Actor


Abstract:The State Council issued the Plan of Deeply Reform the Science and Technology System in 2017 aims to improve the national science and technology awards system,and to realize the original intention of the system that to promote the innovation and the scientific research. In this reform,the awards system ranges from the quota-recommend system to the nomination system,adopts the specific quantity awards system,clarifies the responsibility of the Expert Evaluation Committee and the authorities,ameliorates the credite system of science and technology,etc. How to interpret these reforms and the potential prolems,the study comparesthe construct and the development of the actor networks that forms before and after the passage of the plan from the Actor Network Theory(ANT). It leads to the conclusion,although the ‘obligatory passage point' has been weakened after the reform,nosignificant changes occurs,for instance,the ‘enrollment' and the‘mobilization' from the applicants in the network remain the same. Theutilitarian orientation of the national science and technology awards system has not been solved. In the bureaucratical science and technology awards structure,a further reform is needed in order to keep the crucial actors to play an independent role,reduce their active participation in terms of interest interaction and negotiation in the awarding system,thereafter,to form a fair and just environment for the competition.


Key words:national science and technology awards; actor network theory; quota-recommend; human actors; non-human actors


Author: Meng Xianfei, Li Zhengfeng, Zhang Han

Author: Tsinghua University Research Institute

School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University

School of Marxism, Communication University of China

The full text has been published in Scientific Research, Issue 2, 2021.

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