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The organizational structures of grant procurement processes in Dutch universities: A case study on three Dutch universities

Duijf, Sander Bart (2009) The organizational structures of grant procurement processes in Dutch universities: A case study on three Dutch universities.

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Abstract:We notice a shift in the funding of research at the Dutch universities. An increase in the share of the second and third flow of funds compared to the first flow of funds is visible. In addition, the possibilities (opportunity to receive a form of funding) in the second and third flows of funds are increasing. Expected for the future is that more grants will be part of these flows of funds, which leads to the assumption that the importance of the second and third flows of funds will even grow further in the future. Besides the importance of these funding flows, we also note an increase of competitive funds in the second and third flow of funds. This implies that more effort and more costs of the university and its researchers are required to acquire a grant. A balance of the costs and benefits during the grant procurement processes is therefore desirable, and an efficient approach to grant procurement is important. The main research question in this thesis is as followed: How can universities organize their grant procurement process in such a way that there is an adequate balance between the time spent by academics and support staff on grant procurement and the expertise accumulated by those engaged in the process? We are able to answer this main question by answering four sub-questions. We started this research by distinguishing different types of research grants and stressed their importance. Second is described what grant procurement implies and what the general way of organizing grant procurement is. Next the factors which have an impact on the university’s costs (mostly in terms of time) resulting from the grant procurement processes are discussed. As it appears, the significant affecting factors are the uncertainty, the frequency, and the human capital. Finally, we examined what the grant procurement processes look like in three Dutch universities and what can be said about the origin and effects of occurring differences. This thesis will show that the differences in the organization of grant procurement processes in the three studied Dutch universities are small. These universities take into account similar factors which influence the grant procurement processes. The experienced researchers interviewed in this study have acquired the knowledge and experience of grant procurement by trial and error. When researchers are trying to figure out how to complete a grant application successfully this creates high opportunity costs. These costs will be lower when a researcher applies for a grant application frequently, because the researcher knows what is expected and how this should be performed. Researchers could also be supported during the grant procurement processes. For example, a support department could offer courses on grant procurement to its (junior) researchers. Senior researchers could mentor and involve (junior) researchers in their applications. A special support department could also inform researchers of upcoming grant opportunities and take care of the financial administration of projects. Researchers are dependent on different types of funds, grants are an example. Thus, one should anticipate on possible changes. It therefore seems useful when supporting staff tracks and reacts proactively on changes in grant opportunities and/or schemes. When such a supporting service is set up at a centralized level, it can simultaneously reduce the uncertainty of future grant opportunities for the university through lobbying and agenda setting in Brussels. Summary Page | ii Much knowledge of grant procurement is present in the human capital. This knowledge is of importance to formulate a project proposal of one’s research in a proper way, which improves the odds of completing a grant application successfully. If present, this could also reduce the uncertainty of receiving funding. When present, a university has to retain this knowledge. Otherwise, it has to obtain this knowledge from someone else. Experienced researchers can pass this knowledge on to (junior) researchers. This knowledge could also be present at personnel of various supporting departments in a university, which can store the knowledge of grant procurement processes in grant protocols, grant scripts, etc to avoid a drain of knowledge. Finally, we conclude that it is important to stress the significance of procuring grants to (junior) researchers, share knowledge of grant procurement within the university, and support researchers during grant procurement to decrease their opportunity costs.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
PNO Consultants
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
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