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Science Mega-Project Communities; Mechanisms of Effective Global Collaboration?

ROBINSON, MARK (2019) Science Mega-Project Communities; Mechanisms of Effective Global Collaboration? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Thomas Hale and David Held in Beyond Gridlock (2017) define gridlock as the inability of countries to cooperate via international institutions to address policy problems that span borders; it refers both to deadlock or dysfunctionality in existing organisations and the inability of countries to come to new agreements as issues arise.

In the context of addressing these problems that span borders it is analytically valuable to consider global science mega-project (SMP) communities that have been remarkably effective in working against the gridlock trend. Three of the most insightful SMP case studies are those chosen for my research: the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) community, the International Thermonuclear Experiential Reactor (ITER) nuclear fusion project community and the International Space Station (ISS) community. Previous research into these endeavours has focused on recounting the stories of their scientific discoveries and technical feats and innovations. This research has investigated the reasons behind these triumphs from a social sciences perspective.

The research problem, that this thesis answers, is how do global SMPs achieve their effective collaboration pathways with Member States. A qualitative, ethnographic research method was utilised to consider the case study organisations and the people in them. Interpretivism and critical realism research philosophies governed the design. Three underlying hypotheses concerning start-up conditions, dealing with constraints and governance and leadership, were tested to examine SMP performance. Through over seventy field work interviews, evidence was gathered, and analysis and validation showed that the majority of data supported the hypotheses. The analysis reveals which of the seven Beyond Gridlock pathways and associated mechanisms had been used by the SMP communities to overcome gridlock. This research identifies a new eighth pathway, concerning innovative funding, that it is proposed be added to the primary theory.

Two contributions emerged for consideration by others in the International Relations field. The first shows that communities should be primed and ready to exploit shifts in major power core interests in order to launch new endeavours and the second is how an ingeniously designed funding system allows Member States to commit to projects, permits the central IGOs to operate effectively and, at the same time, maintains support in the Member States’ homelands.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Global Governance, Governance, Gridlock, Diplomacy, Science Diplomacy, Leadership, In-Kind Contributions, Negotiations
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Sep 2019 12:10

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