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The future of national construction research organizations

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The pressures for change on National Construction Research Organizations (NCROs) are identified and linked to changes occurring in the construction sector and the role of government support for construction. Reduced government funding for research has meant NCROs are now dependent on both public and private sector funding. The implications are research priorities are shifting to the shorter-term problems confronting industry, NCROs are under pressure to collaborate internationally and to develop narrower expertise to survive. The dangers of globalized research contracts and short-term contracting with an emphasis on price competition would be to add to uncertainty with each NCRO, undermine long-term benefits, reduce the number of NCROs and their overall research quality. The future of NCROs is discussed as being best situated at a national level with a core funding by government. The requirement of stability for a long-term relationship between governments and NCROs is necessary to maintain and develop knowledge, expertise and excellance as well as capabilities for policy related and emerging issues. Far from being a 'mature' industry, construction has a positive and active role to play in presenting the case for significant government support of R&D for improved living standards, economic growth, user needs and responding to a changing agenda.

Les pressions qui s'exercent pour qu'evoluent les organisations nationales de recherche sur la construction (NCRO) doivent etre associees aux changements qui se produisent dans le secteur de la construction et qui touchent le soutien que le Gouvernement apporte a ce secteur. En reduisant les credits pour la recherche, le Gouvernement oblige aujourd'hui les NCRO a dependre de financements publics et prives. Il en resulte qu'en matiere de recherche, les priorites sont desormais accordees aux problems que l'industrie doit resoudre a court terme et que les NCRO se trouvent contraintes de cooperer sur le plan international et de specialiser leurs competences pour survivre. La mondialisation des contrats de recherche et la passation de contrats a court terme pour lesquels la concurrence des prix est mise en exergue auraient pour effet pernicieux d'inquieter davantage les NCRO, de saper les benefices a long terme, de reduire le nombre de NCRO et d'abaisser globalement la qualite de leurs recherches. On considere que l'avenir des NCRO devrait se jouer au niveau national et que le Gouvernement devrait assurer un financement de base. Il faut que se maintienne la stabilite des relations de longue duree entre les gouvernements et les NCRO si l'on veut conserver et developper les connaissances acquises, les competences et l'excellence des prestations ainsi que l'aptitude a resoudre des problemes de nature politique et a repondre aux questions nouvelles. Loin d'avoir atteint sa maturie, l'industrie de la construction doit jouer un role positif et actif lorsqu'elle defend le cas du soutien important que le Gouvernement doit apporter en matiere de recherche et developpement l'objectif etant d'ameliorer les conditions de vie et la croissance economique, de mieux repondre aux besions des utilisateurs et de reagir a cette nouvelle donne.
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Keywords: CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY; GLOBALIZATION; PUBLIC POLICY; RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONS; RESEARCH POLICY; TRENDS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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