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Patronage and Evaluation in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research

By: Rajeswari S. Raina.
Publisher: 1999; Evaluation 1999; 5; 278 Subject(s): ICAROnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: This article examines the crucial role of scientific expertise and authority, in evaluation as well as in research decision-making. The case of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is used to demonstrate how the bureaucratic imperatives in a public research system can thwart the cause of scientific authority and accountability. Research decision-making is a function delegated to different points, or `nodes', vested with scientific expertise and the power to make decisions. Scientific expertise is the basic asset used by the nodes, which may be individual scientists and/or groups, boards or organizations. Patronage or decision-making in the ICAR is, for the most part, vested in bureaucratic nodes, marking the dichotomy in the organization between scientific and administrative or financial decisionmaking. The concluding section of this article highlights the social reproduction of bureaucratic nodes, which perpetuates the marginalization of evaluation. The nodes in the ICAR rely on bureaucratic decision-making not validated by evaluations or assessments using scientific expertise. It is argued that stringent evaluation can replace bureaucratic authority with scientific expertise and authority, thereby bringing more accountability to the system of patronage of science.
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This article examines the crucial role of scientific expertise and authority, in evaluation as well as in research decision-making. The case of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is used to demonstrate how the bureaucratic imperatives in a public research system can thwart the cause of scientific authority and accountability. Research decision-making is a function delegated to different points, or `nodes', vested with scientific expertise and the power to make decisions. Scientific expertise is the basic asset used by the nodes, which may be individual scientists and/or groups, boards or organizations. Patronage or decision-making in the ICAR is, for the most part, vested in bureaucratic nodes, marking the dichotomy in the organization between scientific and administrative or financial decisionmaking. The concluding section of this article highlights the social reproduction of bureaucratic nodes, which perpetuates the marginalization of evaluation. The nodes in the ICAR rely on bureaucratic decision-making not validated by evaluations or assessments using scientific expertise. It is argued that stringent evaluation can replace bureaucratic authority with scientific expertise and authority, thereby bringing more accountability to the system of patronage of science.

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