The Changing Role of Research Councils in Public Research Systems: Argentina and Spain in Comparative Perspective
After the transitions to democracy the general socio-economic features and the PRS in both countries were relatively similar. Government owned research centers had a bigger role in research than universities.
Both countries and their PSR have evolved in similar ways and have been affected by similar economic cycles, ups and downs in the available resources for research, expansion of the university roles in the PRS, separation of the competitive project funding from the mission of the Research Councils (kept as research performing organizations), etc.
However, there are also significant differences. In Spain, there has been a process of federalization, with an increasing role of the Regional Governments in promoting independent S&T policies, increasing the funding plurality in the system, and promoting their own Higher education policies, while in Argentina, the higher education policy is still a national competence and the promotion of new universities has not resulted in more competition among the elites.
While the Spanish PRS has become more pluralistic and competitive, with loss of centrality of the CSIC, in Argentina the CONICET has been able to remain as a quasi-monopolistic player in the PSR. We argue that understanding governance and research career structures is essential to understand the changes roles of both PRC in their own PSR.