Development and transformation of the third sector of R&D in Sweden, 1942-2017

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article chronicles and analyzes the history of the third sector of R&D in Sweden, which corresponds to an organizational field of research institutes outside academia and private firms. Using secondary sources and governmental documentation, the chronicle begins with the forming of a number of industry-specific and industry-owned institutes in the 1940s and ends with today’s reformed and state-owned institute group called Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). The analysis demonstrates the potential of theoretical tools from historical institutionalism in longitudinal analyses of research policy, by putting the spotlight on an organizational field that has developed in the shadow of major science policy decision-making, largely through processes of conversion and drift. The article identifies path dependence as a key feature of the national Swedish R&D system, and thus confirms, in the area of research policy, the historical-institutionalist postulation that organizational fields and societal sectors often transform gradually and incrementally, with preserved macro-level stability.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History


  • historical institutionalism, path dependence, research institutes, Sweden
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-644
Number of pages11
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number5
Early online date2017 Dec
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct
Publication categoryResearch