Schweitzer, Glenn E.. "6. Lessons Learned and the Future of the Interacademy Program." Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
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Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation
A large Presidium with an administrative apparatus that controls budgets and senior personnel appointments. In contrast to earlier days, there is only limited central planning of research programs, except when earmarked funds become available for specified topics. These funds are often directed by the leadership to specific laboratories.
Hundreds of research institutes and laboratories. Some are in reasonably good shape; others are in poor condition. Despite greatly reduced budgets, there has been little effort to downsize laboratories beyond not filling positions that become vacant from employee movement to the private sector, emigration, and retirement. The decline in the number of junior and midlevel researchers is of special concern, but a few institutes have found resources to continue to recruit outstanding young researchers (Rossiskaya Akademiya Nauk 1991–2001, 2002).
In the years ahead, the extensive property holdings of the RAS will continue to provide considerable rental income for the Presidium and for the institutes. Moreover, the many current and aspiring academicians in influential positions throughout the governmental and nongovernmental sectors will help to ensure the financial viability of the institution. Some members also have strong international scientific reputations and excellent contacts abroad, and they will continue to have seats at the international tables of science. Thus, the RAS will probably continue to weather the depressed economy and play an important role in all aspects of science and technology. Many institutes are nevertheless still in dire economic straits, and they will continue to lose ground as important international science partners.
A clear trend within the RAS institutes during the past decade has been a greater role for applied research and a decline in basic research despite the commitments of the leaderships of both the nation and the RAS to retaining strong fundamental research capabilities. Driven by the need to find commercial sources of financing and by funders’ waning interest in basic research that has no economic, environmental, or social payoff in the foreseeable future, most senior officials of the RAS and its institutes agree that even the most brilliant Russian scientists must learn to break bread with paying customers. They realize that technology-oriented entrepreneurs are an important key to a knowledge-based economy that complements the country’s historic reliance on exports of natural resources. They also are aware that if the most promising young entrepreneurs are to be sufficiently motivated to take the risks that could lead to business success, these young