[Interview] Alain Rallet “L’Open Science: l’émergence de nouvelles organisations innovantes en recherche.”

On the occasion of the OpenExperience “OpenScience edition“, we interviewed Allain Rallet, economist at the RITM laboratory (Innovation network – Territory Globalization) located in Paris Saclay campus. We then asked this pecialist in digital technology economics to expose his views on the knowledge economy and the impact of digital technology on research. He so shows us by using the example of crowdfunding that the transformations brought by digital technology are not only situated at the level of financing. It is most of all the emergence of innovative organizations favorising creativity in research that is at stake.

What are according to you the common points between new business models in digital technology and the knowledge economy, more specifically in the field of research ?

Crédit : Digipolis

Credit : Digipolis

Digital technology offers the possibility to witness the emergence of other economic models involving new ways of producing and distributing services and products. Take cultural industries for instance, it is an economy of stars and bestsellers that harvest the main part of benefits today. Other artists can often hardly  live of their camera, their pen, music, etc.

With crowdfunding, artists look for financing that the industry cannot insure them. Because despite their talent, they do not fit the required standards.

Crowdfunding allows the formation of an ecosystem and also an audience.

Financiers are also influencers and diffusers. The constitution of these microcommunities is going to allow authors and artists to meet their public and live from   the incomes this latest provides them. Digital technology makes those opportunities possible but doesn’t guarantee them.
We can also find this in research and the knowledge economy which undergo a growing formatting related to the ” publish yet(now) perish ” rules. This is a grat concern that represents a risk for creativity and innovation.

Open Science and all its declensions (Open Knowledge, Open Research) could bring to the foreground other kinds of organizations leaning on collaboratives practices.

Today, although it is inherent to science, the collaborative and cooperative character of scientific production is distorted by a phenomenon of knowledge privatization .

 How these new models are situated regarding dominant ones: are they the opposite, competitors or complementary?

Like with crowdfunding in cultural industry, we can wonder this is an alternative organization or is supposed to substitute the existent ? Could we do without public subsidy for instance ?

In the field of the research, subsidies are justified by the fact that science produces externalities. If we let the market rule, we shall have an underinvestment. Because investors have no certainty to recover all of the effects of the produced knowledge. Public subsidies are thus necessary even though nowadays they are associated with trade transplants, private companies acting around management and knowledge transfer. It is the case for instance of a large number of scientific editors.


With Open Science, raises itself an essential question in term of strategy. If it rises, it is necessary to insure the guarantees of its emergence.

By trying to substitute it with research now, the risk would be to suffocate the initiative.

Could we finance research with crowdfunding instead of public subsidies?

If we ask the question in substitution terms, I think that today the answer is no. On the other hand, the crowdfunding can allow the financing and the innovation in domains of knowledge which today encounter difficulties in their developpment because of a financial frame on a national and european scale.

Furthermore, the crowdfunding can be also considered as way to organize and to strengthen scientific communities. They already exist but are in the hands of associations which ensure the application of standards and rules.


Communities could act in a more informal, auto-organized ways at the level of knowledge publications as well than on evaluation.

Behind all this, there is the strategic stake which settles and which is cross-functional in all the fields of activity. (Business, health, education). On what conditions are these technological opportunities going to bring to the foreground innovative organizations?

Quels sont les enjeux derrière ces organisations innovantes portées par l’Open Science?
What is at stake behind these innovative organizations carried by Open Science?

They could allow more diversity in knowledge. Pioneers in the field of the science are not the ones who repeat. Yet today, if we put 70 % of articles published in the trash can, the stock of the knowledge of the humanity would not fall. Research does not rhyme with creativity.


Open Science would be a way to encourage dissidents, creatives, new ideas or methodologies contributors . We know that along Science history of the Science it is the deviants, the people who are situated on the borders which took knowledge forward.

The interdisciplinarity is a good example. The subsidies of the ANR or Europe finance rather easily interdisciplinary projects. But at the level of the evaluation, the frame remains disciplinary which invalidates researchers. Can be that these new modes of organization could create resonance chambers in the interdisciplinary works? The current situation would be freed thanks to an incitement in terms of publication and evaluation.

Well,as for crowdfunding, it is necessary to be wary of financing following dominant opinions. These new models favor audacious researches, even if they do not allow to insure all of the financing. A good way to stimulate creativity in the field of the science.



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