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Social capital in large-scale projects and it's impact on Innovation: Social network analysis of Genome Canada (2000-2009)



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The contemporary era is witnessing a systemic transition in the Canadian science and research paradigm. The research world is shrinking rapidly in response to modern technological developments, commercial and regulatory integration, faster communications and transportation and proactive science, technology and innovation policy. It is increasingly challenging to make competitive progress in world-class innovation or to gain global leadership in science. Big-science is now proposed as one of the means to realize national innovation goals and international competitiveness. As a result, government support for large-scale innovation projects has increased multifold. This dissertation examines a range of hypotheses large-scale research projects enhance investigator exchanges and generate social capital that has significant downstream benefits, which would provide a reason to support big science beyond the instrumental goals of the projects themselves. Taking Genome Canada as an example, this dissertation examines the production and role of social capital generated through large-scale research projects to assess the evidence base for funding big science research. A group of 139 investigators who raised capital in the Genome Canada Applied Bioproducts and Crops (ABC) Competition in 2009 are examined in the context of their engagements and networks in 2000-2009 in four relational arenas, namely their area of expertise, institutional connections, research grants, and co-publications. The investigation reveals three main findings. First, large-scale innovation projects as delivered through Genome Canada, comply with the fundamentals of contemporary innovation network theory. Second, the ties amongst investigators generate social capital, which offers positional advantage and differential superior access to networked resources. Third, the social capital generated in actor relations has pronounced long term impacts on downstream research success. Inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional large-scale research projects that have strong elements of knowledge production and financial exchange are found to assist the federal government in advancing research and innovation objectives. The results of the current investigation provide a strong rationale for the integration of people, disciplines, and institutions under the umbrella of large-scale genomics and proteomics research, and possible lessons for other research fields.



Large-scale, Social Capital, Innovation, Centrality, Bridging Social Capital, Bonding Social Capital, Network, Betweeness Centrality, Degree Centrality, Eigenvector Centrality, Federal Government, S&T Policy



Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)


Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy


Public Policy


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