Protecting the Purity of Pure Research: Organizational Boundary-Work at an Institute of Basic Research

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Research institutions and universities are positioned in a state of inherent struggle to reconcile the pressures and demands of the external environment with those of the scientific community. This paper is focused on one contested area, the division between basic and applied research, and explores how universities work to balance organizational legitimacy and scientific reputation. Building on an in-depth case study of the Weizmann Institute of Science, established as an institute of basic research in the context of the new Israeli state, I explore how managers and scientists at the Institute engaged in organizational experimentation to demarcate basic and applied research during the 1950s–1970s. In analyzing the case of the Weizmann Institute, the paper draws on the concept of boundary-work and explores organizational strategies of boundary-work focused on the demarcation of activities and units and creation of new organizational forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-91
Number of pages27
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Applied research
  • Basic research
  • Boundary-work
  • Organizational legitimacy
  • Research organizations
  • Scientific reputation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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