Cooperation and Competition
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Project description

The research group aims to study the difficult interplay of cooperation and competition in the sciences (in the large, German sense of the term) in the 1970s through 1990s. The modern sciences have often been described, particularly in view of the twentieth century, in terms of competition alone.

Yet, it is a paradox of the scientific enterprise that only those actors can hope to succeed in competition, that are also integrated into cooperative structures. Furthermore, neither competition nor cooperation leads to stable configurations: today’s partners can turn into tomorrow’s rivals and vice versa.

The research group sets out to analyse at selected examples – settings that are shaped by this tension – the resulting dilemma and its specific solutions in order to gain a better understanding of the underlying conventions and mechanisms. The participants’ self-conception and their role models as scientists or science policy persons will be studied; the consequences of the increasingly manifest entanglement of science, politics and economy will be analysed; and the formation of new, transnational networks of science investigated. One of the core questions concerns the epistemic effects of cooperative and competitive configurations and their interplay. Methods and approaches from the history of science that are appropriate to analyse the actors’ behaviour and motivations are combined in this project with a critical, self-conscious impetus: cooperation and competition are open to shaping and change, and scientific actors should be aware of the consequences of their doing so.