Funding and internal governance Organisational structure

CoEs are often located on university campuses, but have their own legal status. They may be: i) without specific legal status; ii) part of a legal entity, such as public research; and iii) a non-profit organisation.

The organisational structure of public and semi-public research centres and institutes is set by law (Decree n° 125/99 of April 20). There are at least four bodies: the executive body (director or executive board of directors); two scientific committees (one internal and one external); and a control body (the auditing committee). The internal scientific committee is composed of all doctorate holders of the organisation, regardless of position or nationality, and advises on annual reports and the organisation’s plans. The executive body is in charge of the management of the organisation and runs the day-to-day operations. The external scientific committee is composed preferably of renowned foreign researchers; it provides strategic advice and evaluates results. The auditing committee controls quality and approves the accounts. Most centres with a non-profit legal statute and with more than one shareholder have a general assembly, which is the top decision-making body of the organisation for strategic issues.

When a CoE has a legal status, the board of directors is supervised and elected by the general assembly. Members of the management structure of the university at which the centre is located generally do not sit on the executive board and almost never take a direct or active role in the centre’s daily management. Some 84% of survey respondents considered that the CoE’s director is responsible for decisions on funding, staffing and the centre’s research strategy, probably after consultation with the internal or external advisory bodies. Important decisions are also made in a bottom-up way.

The internal scientific committee meets in plenary or in sub-groups and is responsible for the centre’s strategic and scientific management. Depending on the size of the scientific committee, centres such as the Instituto de Telecomunica^oes (IT) create specialised subcommittees (Box 9.1).

Box 9.1. The scientific committee of the Institute of Telecommunications

The Institute of Telecommunications is a large institute with several centres across the country. The scientific committee is composed of 220 researchers with doctoral degrees. Because of its size, the scientific committee was sub-divided into more manageable sub-committees. Two permanent sub-committees were created: the Science and Technology Committee and the Research Group Co-ordination Committee. This has resulted in faster response to requests and more effective specialised advice, without the need for lengthy negotiations to reach a decision.

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