InsideHigherEd.com has good coverage of NBER’s recent investigations into research at Universities in the US. While much of funding is based on a peer-review system, much is also based on earmarks by elected officials.
From Doug Lederman:
Examining the interplay of university research output, the governance of research institutions, and how they are funded in the U.S. and Europe, the researchers conclude that when presented with an increase in outside funding, public universities use that money more productively if they have more autonomy and more frequently compete with private universities for research dollars.
While the researchers frame their study primarily to inform the discussion about how Europe might alter its system of funding scholarly science, their conclusion has implications for state and federal officials deciding how to allocate their own grant money. That’s especially true on the hotly contested terrain of peer reviewed, competitive studies vs. those earmarked, or mandated, by lawmakers.
Pretty interesting stuff in my opinion with important implications for research driven universities and entrepreneurial opportunities. Again, this highlights a key to US strength and support for the thesis that the University offers a frontier like space where competition and liberty are more often the norm.
Here is a link to the original paper at NBER. The title is, The Governance and Performance of Research Universities: Evidence from Europe and the U.S.