Neoliberalism, the University, Public Goods and Agricultural Innovation

Leland Glenna, Sally Shortall, Barbara Brandl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


After World War II, most industrialising nations adopted some form of welfare-state approach to balance the economic activities of self-interested agents and social welfare. In the realm of scientific research and innovation, this often meant that governments took primary responsibility for funding public research organisations, including research universities and government laboratories. Over the past four decades, however, the significance of private funding for agricultural research has increased, and academic scientists now often work in public-private partnerships. We argue that this trend needs to be carefully monitored because public goods are likely to be overlooked and undervalued in such arrangements. In the interest of developing indicators to monitor the trend, we document public and private funding for agricultural research and agricultural innovation in four countries: the USA, the UK, Ireland and Germany. Our results show that although neoliberalism is evident in each country, it is not homogeneous in its application and impacts, suggesting that national and institutional contexts matter. This article is directed at stimulating debates on the relationships between university research, agricultural innovation and public goods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-459
Number of pages22
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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