GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Research Collaboration Networks in the GCC States
Paper Proposal Text :
Several countries in the GCC are taking steps to diversify their regional economies. The dominant reliance on the oil and gas sector is viewed as unsustainable in the long term, and a key focus of policy and state action has been on strengthening local science, technology, and innovation (STI). In the past decade, in the GCC countries, new universities have been created, existing institutions have initiated strategic reformation, and a number of key partnerships have been established with foreign universities to revitalize science and engineering education and research.

Our work, motivated within this context, seeks to study the research system within four GCC countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. We use a graph-theoretic approach to model research collaborations across multiple scales that include the researchers (actors) level, universities and institutional (organizations) level, and the country (states) level. Graph theory, or networks theory, allows for quantitative analysis of discrete entities linked by specific relationships and has been employed to study large-scale complex systems ranging from technical engineered infrastructure systems to human systems including social networks. In this paper, we investigate the structure of science and technology research networks by analyzing co-authorship data from publications in science and technology journals. Research collaboration network models allow for quantitatively and systematically studying knowledge creation and knowledge exchange – two key processes that are needed for initiating and sustaining the so-called knowledge-based economies that are actively sought by many policy makers in the GCC states.

Co-authorship networks have been studied in the European and US scientific research contexts, however the case for GCC countries is poorly understood. There are unique differences in the nature and structure of scientific collaborations in the GCC region given the large emphasis many local institutions have placed in seeking partnerships with foreign universities and establishment of local campuses of foreign institutions. We use our multi-scale models (at researcher and institutional levels) to study the defining features of scientific research that is being undertaken in this region, and we explore the implications for long-term local capacity building and technology innovation.

In addition to examining the existing structure of the research system (as modeled through collaboration networks), we also trace its evolution over the last two decades for each of the four countries. We identify and compare the rate of change and discuss policy implications for accelerating and sustaining the trajectories of growth.

Our preliminary results show that there are strong international but weak regional linkages between education and research institutions within and across GCC states. For future STI development, institutional leaders will need to investigate how scientific and technological cooperation can be increased so that shared learning and enterprise can spur research and innovation in the region for all partners. Overall, the results of our work provide a multi-level characterization of the scientific and technical research system and can be used for informing strategic planning in the region.