Science & Technology policy in Brazil – V

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Relations between University, government and companies

Based on the framework presented in previous articles, we begin to address the inevitable triangle between university, government and companies (market). It is a historical succession of struggles between actors interested in controlling the university through the privatizing managerial management model, and its counterpoint represented by the public sphere, sometimes republican, sometimes statist, sometimes both as an expression associated with political currents on the left. In the first and second sections, we proceed to a historical synthesis about the relations between the university and the government, and about the synthetic framework of the analysis approaches of science, technology, innovation and society policies.

We seek to situate the trends and configure scenarios for where the relations between S&T policies, the university and the traditional capitalist company go. We add to this field of references the issues of S&T and university policy in the face of the vast field of popular and solidarity economy in Brazil.


We can see in the first case that over the last forty-four years (1968-2012) some important milestones were implemented to regulate the public university in Brazil(1).

Four moments involve public universities and the current risk free capitalism of private companies in the educational sector (and we will see, to what extent this affects S&T policy). Two moments are older, and two are current, as their consequences are felt in the day-to-day life of the university and in the attempt to resolve them.

(i) The 1968 reform – The first moment of the first phase corresponding to the Educational Reform promoted by the military governments broke with the model of “chairs”, associated teaching with research, introduced new academic activities (such as extension and special education), and defined its own rules for the teaching career, for student access to higher education and for the organization of academic curricula.

(ii) University autonomy and the private sector (1988) – The second moment of this first period flowed into the 1988 Constitution (Article 207) which defined as a fundamental element that universities would enjoy didactic-scientific, administrative and financial and asset management autonomy and that they would obey the principle of non-dissociation between teaching , research and extension. This Article of the Constitution materialized the historic struggle that began in the 1960s and reached a favorable position in the 1968 Reform regarding the formation of the postgraduate system in Brazil, an old claim of the research community in defense of university (cognitive) autonomy. At the same time, federal laws were not regulated to explicitly characterize autonomy (management and research) as a condition of the university. In such a way that at any moment the University could lose something that was not regulated.

(iii) Private expansion (1995-2002) – In 1996, the Law of Guidelines and Bases (LDB) sought to reduce this dubiousness and opened a chapter on the concept of autonomy that became legally clearer. The LDB (Article 54) establishes that “universities maintained by the government enjoy, by law, a special legal status to meet the peculiarities of their structure, organization and funding by the government, as well as their career plans and the legal regime of the your staff”.

However, the contradictions in the constitutional text were not resolved and a minimalist effort followed that led to the approval of the LDB. Thus, from the 1990s, university autonomy began to be more intensely debated, as a result of the rise of neoliberalism. For companies interested in profitable investment in the education sector, “autonomy had to do with free enterprise, for public school supporters, with freedom of thought.

At the same time, a series of topics for public institutions were regulated, and several others for private companies were liberalized. In a way, the LDB advocated the non-existence of regulation of private education, without the obligation to value and invest in the qualification of the teaching staff, consolidated the paid work regime per class-hour and condemned the teacher to finance his own qualification, door of entry into higher education(2)

In the first term of the FHC government, there were a series of initiatives in the sense of making university management equivalent to that of private companies. Among them stand out (i) the proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) 370 of 1996, which intended to deconstitutionalize autonomy, but which was shelved due to pressure from the research community (ii) Law 9.131 of 1995, which provides for the holding the National Examination of Courses; (iii) Decree 2.308 of 1997, which regulates University Centers and Higher Normal Courses (iv) Law 9.678 of 1998, which creates the GED – Teaching Incentive Bonus, and finally (v) Law 9.962 of 2000, which allows the Union to hire professors and technical-administrative staff in the form of public employment, governed by the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws).

It is worth remembering that in 1999 the Federal Executive Power prepared a Bill for the Autonomy of the IFES (Federal Institutions of Higher Education). It proposed that federal universities would be subject to society's control mechanisms, which would verify the quality and quantity of services provided by them.

Although it did not mention intervention, the Project foresaw the blocking of the transfer of resources in case the institutional development project was not fulfilled by the IFES. The proposal gave the Executive Power the prerogative to limit the transfer of resources to the IFES budget, even after their approval by Congress.

Disputes were clearly opened around the conquest of university management autonomy in the face of government control, and whether the management of universities should be equated with that of other state institutions that were adopting the same management procedures as private companies, or even whether they should Universities continue to be maintained exclusively with public funds.

Since then, the university has been asked to increase its efficiency according to the formula: produce more and with fewer resources. The management autonomy granted to the university with the rise of neoliberalism consisted of allowing it to adapt to market needs in order to obtain extra-budgetary resources.

(iv) Privatist pressures associated with the REUNI expansion – The fourth moment begins in the 2000s, and extends to the present day (2020). Like companies, the university should also be managed according to private economic and administrative criteria, an assumption that generates the still current debate on the university management model.

Business management techniques at the university and the opening of its research to other actors have been supported by part of the research community through a set of subliminal of differentiated actions in support of measures to foster innovation under the strengthening of links between universities and companies.

The following data, scenarios and analyzes deepen the identification of how these segments of the scientific community behave and think.

The complicity of part of the research community with heteronymous or external measures to the university, contributed to the emptying of the principle of university autonomy (whether management or research).

Throughout the 2000s, privatist times oscillated that could defeat university autonomy or lead to suffocation in a few years.(3).

Throughout the 2002-2012 decade, these gloomy perspectives also changed, overcome in the privatist context in particular, by a broad national movement to stop teachers at most federal public universities in the country (in the first half of 2012), representative enough to rekindle the autonomy debate.

The regulation of the career and the corresponding salaries by the government, however, imposes a division on the teaching movement, as it separates salary and career promotion at a different pace for those in the beginning and middle of their careers, compared to those in the middle to the top. of career.

Earlier, in 2010, a normative “package” consisting of MP 495 and Decrees 7.232 and 7.233 had been approved. MP 495 deals with tenders and establishes the relationship conditions between universities and their support foundations for institutional development programs.

Decree 7.232 defines that universities must have autonomy for hiring to replace retirements or requests for dismissals, automatically, regardless of MEC authorization.

Decree 7.233 gives more management autonomy to universities, which will be able to transfer funds from one year to the next (hitherto prohibited). The university-government clash carries two essential intertwined components that affect both the direction of S&T policy and decisions about the character of public and private science & technology.

The first component is related to the university's management model. Whether or not it should be adapted and become part of the management of other government institutions and public companies has been a question that will remain on the university's historical horizon.

A portion of the research community argues “that universities cannot be treated as public departments and that the civil service statute is not the appropriate form of management for their staff”. Another portion seeks to “preserve the advantages and privileges of the public service to the detriment of university autonomy”.

A third portion thinks that the University should subordinate itself to the managerial management model and be politically conducted heteronomously as a special business organization (and not as a social institution)

The second component concerns the origin of financial resources for maintaining the university's core activities. Throughout the 2000s, the Federal Government adopted a policy of reducing expenditure on the University in current expenditure (salary mass) by adopting procedures and devices to implement mechanisms that induce the University to become financially autonomous.

Researchers who studied the university reform proposal of the first Lula government (2004-2008) observe that there was a seductive discourse; then it was seen that the proposed autonomy had financial autonomy as its main focus in the sense of unlocking university management to raise funds in the market, without legal constraints, which would supposedly give enormous financial relief to the State.

The expedients to reduce investments in universities (seen as expenses) were not successful, either due to the expansion of Federal and Technological Institutes by REUNI I, or because pressure increased for maintenance and salaries of the built base, or even because the 2012 national strike proposed precisely the continuity of investments in something like a REUNI II.

Part of the academic community has sought to free itself from government injunctions and to guarantee the public resources necessary to maintain its research and to be able to decide on its own management, including raising funds through its links with companies.

It should be noted that renowned research scientists occupy commanding positions in government bodies formally responsible for drawing up research support policies; this also conditions the behavior patterns of bureaucrats linked to the decision-making process that articulate the university with the PCT.

As we will see later, there are those in the university itself who dictate the paths of denial or affirmation of the university's autonomy. And therefore, they are the ones who can also lead it to a managerial management model of a private business organization (and there are also those who look to the University as a field to implement public business management models, typical of public companies).


Traditionally in Brazil, the University-Society relationship has been guided by actions aimed at training graduates, masters and doctors in all areas, with a significant set of Graduate and Extension experiences in the last 40 years, mature enough as involvement with the society.

University extension policies in particular (in the teaching-research-extension triad), however, became a minor partner in the face of the new university-company-state triad, which generated a new “rich cousin” offspring – the previously analyzed entrepreneurship, whose presence is seen as a supposedly strategic need of the public university (curiously, the private one escapes this desideratum, as it does not produce research).

In this sense, the relations between the university and society are strained by the increase in social demand for the entry of pre-university students through quotas in the public university.

There is a double challenge for the university:

(a) plan and execute a reform capable of integrating the new sciences as a political-epistemological problem of a qualitative nature (later explored in depth).

And (b) carry out a policy of reorganization and administration with social management through a quantitative strategy that involves expanding the offer of vacancies in public higher education for graduates of public schools.

There are examples of varied experiences of new universities in Brazil and Latin America whose students come from a clearly popular class background and from urban and rural middle strata and working classes).

The second source of conflicts and tensions that directly affects S&T policy is the strong transfer of public resources funded by the National Science and Technology Development Fund (FNDCT since 1999) to industrial, service, agricultural and transformation companies to carry out R&D .

These transfers were institutionalized (based on the Innovation Law, the Good Law and the S&T Regulatory Framework and respective regulations as mechanisms to finance an innovative business environment), but today they are paralyzed with the non-policies of science and technology resulting from the dismantling of the sector after the 2016 coup.

The second field (quotas) was in its infancy in its institutionalization (law 12.711 of 21/8/2012 during the Dilma Rousseff Government) aiming at regulating social quotas with access by 50% of those coming from public schools; weakened in the Executive continues to be applied in universities as an internal policy under the cover of university autonomy.

In practice, the Brazilian public university, through innovation agencies, incubators of technology-based micro-enterprises, parks and technological centers implanted in its proximity with research contents carried out in public institutes and financed by society's resources, has been a supposedly favorable environment to the interaction of academic members with businessmen. The behavior as a class of the latter, however, in relation to R&D has been refractory.

The same neoliberal ideological matrix that privileges the market as the main regulator of the University-Society relationship, also generates, in the case of Brazilian peripheral capitalism, meager results in the increase of companies' R&D.

They act more in importing technological packages and systems that do not incorporate knowledge with local content. It is worth remembering that one of the fundamental components for productivity growth is product or process innovation.

Imitation and transfer of technology can also contribute, but as long as the country develops learning systems anchored in the ability of workers to absorb tacit knowledge, also called the tacit dimension(4).

Such tacit knowledge is usually extracted from those who have experience, wisdom and/or are heirs through generational transmission.

It is systematized by masters and doctors in commercial, industrial and service organizations engaged in R&D activities. But not only.

Workers spread across production and service environments throughout Brazil attest that the more hierarchical or vertical the organization, the less their participation in the formation of new standards of schooling and politeness in companies.

That is to say: their expertise in know-how is exploited to the bone if necessary to convert it into managerial prescriptions. This is what can be observed when technical and professional training practices are analyzed in specific sectors, to mention the most serious ones – in total disagreement with the practices of increasing productivity through the qualification of the workforce – cases, for example, pharmacists, slaughterhouses, sugar and alcohol, processing industry in general, among others.

Data from the Brazilian census in this field indicate that (from 1998 to 2010) only 0,2% of graduates were hired to do R&D.

This statement is a corollary of a broader scenario related to the trade balance between 1995-2014 (imports x exports) related to industrial products, according to technological intensity.

graphic 01 - Industrial products according to technological intensity - Trade Balance (millions of dollars)

Source: SBPC, based on Secex/ALICE data, with OECD Standatabase methodology. Accessed in July 2017: TSS –

IBGE data indicate the predominant behavior of companies by systematically importing high & medium-high systems, components, equipment and devices, and high but also low complexity, in increasing proportions from 2006 onwards, well above the local production of products low-intensity industries.

This table presents a portrait of the notable regression of the capital goods sector (machinery and equipment in the country, a strategic area in any society with a mature S&T policy).

Nothing indicates that the offer by the university of masters and doctors, associated with funding programs and scholarships to promote the link between university and companies, could change the behavior of a certain Brazilian industrial bourgeoisie. It compares the costs between buying ready-made technology abroad, and those of developing it here with the support of S&T policy, and decides to import machinery and equipment.


We will quickly see four currents that seek to explain these contradictions with a stylized view based on striking traits of the university-company linkage, and the respective postures of values. Three of them were developed to understand the framework of university-business relations in the European and American countries; the fourth is specific to the Latin American context.

A) New production of knowledge (NPC)

When it comes to the perspective of the NPC interpretative current on university-business relations, we are faced with a stylized representation of the dynamics in which there is greater interaction between researchers in the physical and natural sciences (“hard sciences”) and Politics, because this group of scientists came to control a large part of the resources for public and business investment in S&T under contemporary conditions.

In the NPC's view, this segment tends to hegemonize (material control and ideas of subordinating science, technology & innovation policy to the market). They also act with influence in the main scientific societies.

Such segments acquire greater political weight (power to mobilize resources) distinct from what occurred in a supposed Mode 1 of production of scientific knowledge, which would express the classic or traditional way of doing science. Mode 1 would operate through the paradigm of neutrality and scientific production disinterested.

The new production of knowledge, however, would constitute another profile. They would be formed by scientists and researchers with a double militancy: a kind of influential group of scientist-entrepreneurs that starts to operate under a supposed Mode 2 (NPC).

In this Mode 2, the relationships between science, technology and companies would be based, taking into account the reality of business in local and international markets, the educational system, the research policy in S&T (5) .

The scientific method in Mode 1 is understood as “the way to get to the truth”, but starts to be interpreted in Mode 2 as a research and development process with the constitution of teams around hybrid methodologies, generally multidisciplinary in nature , created based on the practical utility and strategic needs of the actors and institutions involved in the production of S&T.

In this approach, the doctrine of linkage is offered as a response to the demand of economic actors in private companies, obviously taking as reference an international standard of scientific-technological excellence identified or assimilated to commercial and industrial applications of new technologies.

In summary, the two ways of linking University and Society are presented in a summary:

Figure 01 – The NPC approach – New knowledge production as a heuristic model for explaining university-business relationships

Source: GIBBONS, et al 1994; SHINN and RAGOUET, 2008:165-191. Elaboration Author

 The current – ​​although much cited in the annals of articles and books in several countries – presents only two works that synthesize its proposals. No concrete evidence, however, is given to substantiate changes in science in its “relationships with business and society (…) that goes (...) no question, but many answers (...); no provision is made for future empirical, historical or sociological work”.

According to these authors “these programmatic and methodological difficulties may be a consequence of the fact that the approach does not have a sociological referent (…) it does not work with, nor define, its central sociological concepts (…) that said, the approach is “anti-differentiationist”. ” insofar as it seeks to minimize or deny demarcations between academic, technical, industrial, political and social institutions.

It thus discards borders and divisions of labor (…) it rejects the notions of specific forms of knowledge and specific social constituents in favor of undifferentiated knowledge and undifferentiated social sets, where even distinctions between nature and culture disappear”(6).

The NPC has also been criticized from the Latin American perspective as legitimizing the technoscience promoted by scientist-entrepreneurs at the Brazilian university, who promoted the subordination of entire areas of research (as in the case of agronomic biotechnologies) to the development of products and business plans controlled by transnational companies of seeds and pesticides.

B) propeller Triple (HT)

This is an approach that – contrary to the NPC – highlights the historical continuities of relations in other conjunctures since the end of World War II, between government, universities and companies in Western countries.(7).

The TH identifies the birth of an additional scientific layer to the already existing layers of researchers who work in university-government-business relations. In this layer there are specific groups from academia, business and government in constant interaction “to face new problems that originate in an economic, institutional and intellectual world in profound transformation (…) TH intends to be a sociological expression of an order increasingly knowledge-based society” (idem).

TH assumed four characteristics. First, it developed an empirical research base of data, in the form of multiple case studies on changes in university-business-state relations.

The second concerns the direct engagement of defenders of this approach in solving concrete and specific problems of government policy for S&T, universities and industries (entrepreneurs, university managers, and public figures).

His performance does not have the character of lobby or interest group, but from organized groups of public policy makers (in the style of research institutes in policy analysis and formulation of proposals based on empirical data and future scenarios).

Since the 2000s, there has been a profusion of national and international meetings that bring together these policy managers to “keep themselves abreast of changing environments and, when possible, anticipate change (…) proof of this is the involvement, in the reflection on the Triple Helice, the National Science Foundation, the Center National de Recherche Scientifique, the Northern Treaty Organization, the European Commission, and academic authorities in Brazil and other developing countries.

A third feature is what has been called the “analytical thrust” of TH, as opposed to that of NPC, aimed at asserting the distinctions between science and technology, industry and academia, society and knowledge.

Supporters of the TH interpretation argue that while in the XNUMXst century. XIX, and first half of the XX, these strata occupied articulated but distinct places. Currently, each of them and the changes in their relationships are giving rise to a historically differentiated unit, the Triple Helix.

C) Transversal approach to science (ATC)

There is, however, questioning the view of the first and second currents by another proposal of interpretation within the scope of the sociology of scientific knowledge, and the sociology of technology in the perspective that there is no separation but different regimes of production and diffusion of science simultaneously. It would become possible to identify in social institutions (such as public universities) and organizations (such as public and private, national and multinational companies) a new transversal organization of knowledge (ATC) by the coexistence of these regimes.

This approach suggests that the government should encourage the creation of local systems of technological innovation based on this differentialism.

The University, the government and the company also respond to local dictates and not just global rules. The same is true for scientific disciplines and subdisciplines that function differently in different national institutions, which is also true in laboratories maintained by companies and corporations.

Another aspect is related to the way in which career and wage differences are treated, under titles that result from a division of labor.

in perspective ATC after analyzing a set of traits of its contemporary operation, university-business relations could be described from four transversal regimes that allow the agglutination and association of researchers:

a) rdisciplinary regime (researchers' actions guided by traditional lines of association based on interests, having the scientific discipline as a guiding principle);

b) utilitarian regime (action by sharing action or intervention in reality as a guiding principle);

c) transitory regime (action of researchers in hybrid situations, sometimes at the university, sometimes in companies that can give rise to new fields of research and applications within a limited set of institutional coordinates); It is

d) transverse regime – based on a generating principle related to the interests and needs of researchers to have mobility to work in different environments where there are research resources by instrumentation, or generic research technologies (automatic control systems, ultracentrifuge, spectrography, radio astronomy, laser or the microprocessor; reactor atomic, and others) which lead researchers to traverse environments in which there is a predominance of the other three regimes. (SHINN and RAGOUET, 2008: 140-152; SCIENTAE STUDIAE, 2012)

D) Latin American thought Science, Technology, Society – PLACTS

Policies and guidelines for decision-making in this area (S&IT) are usually based on interpretations that were formulated in the 1970s/1980s, which in turn inherited older narratives from the 1950s/1960s. Hence the importance not only of rescuing these narratives, but also considering the extent to which they remain appropriate for Brazil and Latin America.

This is what we can call after the previous aspects, a fourth aspect to qualify the specificity of the science and technology policy and its systemic relations with the university and companies. This approach (later in the 1990s) came to be called “Latin American Thought in Science, Technology and Society” (PLACTS). Its hallmark was to present itself as a strong concern to formulate a scientific and technological policy whose general precepts are described here. Given its relevance to issues of societal sovereignty and university autonomy, we will look at PLACTS in detail in the next article.

* Richard Neder He is a sociologist and political economist, professor at UnB and editor-in-chief of the Revista Ciência e Tecnologia Social.

*Raquel Moraes is a professor of education and technology at UnB.

To read the first part go to

To read the second part go to

To read the third part go to

To read the fourth part go to



[1]           Rogério Bezerra Silva (2012) A methodological instrument for the analysis of the university-government relationship in peripheral capitalist countries. EVALUATION: JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION ASSESSMENT (CAMPINAS) ISSN 1414-4077. Evaluation (Campinas) vol.17 no.2 Sorocaba Jul. ______ (2012B) The university-society relationship on the periphery of capitalism. RBCS BRAZILIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES. Vol. 27. no.78 feb. (pp. 25-40).


[2]           Celso Napolitano (2017) The tortuous paths of a money mine. Gilberto Maringoni (org.) THE BUSINESS OF EDUCATION. THE ADVENTURE OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN THE LAND OF RISK-FREE CAPITALISM. Federation of Teachers of the State of São Paulo. FEPESP, Olho D'Água, 2017 (pages 11-34).

[3]           Data about these aspects v. Rogério Bezerra Silva (op.cit) MC by L. PEIXOTO (2004) Org. UNIVERSITY AND DEMOCRACY: EXPERIENCES AND ALTERNATIVES FOR EXPANDING ACCESS TO THE BRAZILIAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG, and Gilberto Maringoni (org.) 2017 – THE BUSINESS OF EDUCATION. THE ADVENTURE OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN THE LAND OF RISK-FREE CAPITALISM. Federation of Teachers of the State of São Paulo. FEPESP, Olho D'Água.

[4]           Michael Polanyi (2013) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – TEXTS BY MICHAEL POLANYI. Lisbon: Inovatec; IN+Center for Innovation, Technology and Public Policy. Eduardo Beira (org. and trans.).

[5]           M. Gibbons, C. Limoges, H. Nowotny, S. Schwartzman, P. Scott, M. Trow, (1994) THE NEW PRODUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE: THE DYNAMICS OF SCIENCE AND RESEARCH IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES. London: Sage; H. Nowotny, HP Scott, M. Gibbons (2001) RE-THINKING SCIENCE: KNOWLEDGE AND THE PUBLIC IN AN AGE OF UNCERTAINTY. Cambridge: Polity. GIBBONS, et al 1994.

[6]           T. SHINN, E. Amy (2006) “Pathways of commercial knowledge: forms and consequences of university-enterprise synergy in technology incubators”. SCIENTIÆ STUDIA, Sao Paulo: 4,(3).:485-500; Terry Shinn and Ragouet, 2008:165-191, SCIENTAE STUDIAE, 2012.

[7]           Terry Shinn and Pascal Ragouet – CONTROVERSIES ABOUT SCIENCE. FOR A TRANSVERSALIST SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY, Editora 34/Associação Filosofica Scientiæ Studia, 2008.




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