Promoting responsible internationalization in a complex world

Published: 2023-05-07

Associate professor and Senior lecturer in Marketing Tommy Shih has been working with some of the largest research funders in the world in developing a joint approach for responsible international research collaboration in a complex world.

"Power dynamics in the world is changing quickly and as it looks like it will become tougher", says Associate professor and Senior lecturer in Marketing Tommy Shih. Photo: Håkan Röjder and iStock.

Tommy has been working with some of the biggest international funders in the world during several years like the National Science Foundation in the United States, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Japan Science and Technology Agency as well as the Nordic Research Councils. He is also an expert for the European Commission and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, as well as leading an international research group studying Global Science Challenges and Senior adviser to STINT (The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education) since more than five years.

Together with these actors Tommy works to better understand some of the complexities of international collaboration in research and innovation amid a tense geopolitical environment. The background is the globalization following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent rise of China as a global super power, which has created strong tensions with the Western world and its closest military allies. Moreover, the increased autocratization in the world and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has further created more restrictions on open international research collaboration.  

Providing expert advice

As an expert on responsible internationalization, science collaboration and geopolitics, Tommy is currently involved in a number of networks on the national, European and global level to provide expert advice.   

Why are you being consulted?

“I work as a part-time work as a researcher and teacher at LUSEM, and part-time policymaker. As a researcher and policy advisor on global science collaboration, and leading a larger international group on this topic I have been able to see much of the developments happening in real time. I have also had the benefit of working closely with practitioners and actors feeling the pressure from a toughening global environment. On top of that I work closely with many competent researchers on the topic of research policy, which has allowed us to develop knowledge and models on how to manage in this complexity," Tommy explains.

Perspectives on the challenges

What to you want to accomplish?

“Right now I am working with many stakeholders, such as universities, research funders and state agencies in Europe, Asia and North America. It is important to get their perspectives on the challenges in order to derive meaningful advice on how to proceed with providing suggestions on how to manage the opportunities with international research collaboration. Given the strong focus on the securitization of research and fear of autocratic consolidation in the West, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind these policies and what impact they have. This is used to have conversations about what a more appropriate balance might be between openness and securitization. Power dynamics in the world is changing quickly and as it looks like it will become tougher, at the same time there are global challenges that need to be dealt with. So learning how to collaborate amid these tensions is just becoming so much more important.”   

What ‘s coming up?

"This month I am responsible for organizing a side event with the National Science Foundation (US) at the Global Research Council’s annual meeting in the Hague. The half-day event will deal with responsible internationalization, and how reciprocal global relationships in research can be formed. This is a tricky question with no simple solutions. We expect funding agencies from all over the world participating actively in this event."