L’agir du chiffre, entre formalité statistique et trajectoires politiques

Comtois-Dinel, Ève-Lyne (2019)

Working Paper


Notre recherche vise à problématiser la relation entre les usages de la statistique et les politiques publiques, plus spécifiquement dans la gouvernance multi-niveaux qu’amène l’innovation. L’étude des politiques publiques en matière d’innovation nous paraît en effet offrir un point de vue privilégié sur la question de la formalisation et de la quantification dans les processus de décision. La thèse a pour objet d’étude la production de connaissances, ou la fabrique ordinaire du « chiffre », telle qu’elle est réalisée au sein de Statistique Canada. Nous optons pour une méthode qualitative qui s’appuie principalement sur des entretiens et de l’analyse documentaire. Inspirée de la sociologie de la quantification, la thèse insiste sur la forme d’organisation, les types d’instruments, les savoirs et savoir-faire qui concourent à la stabilisation d’un chiffre dans les politiques publiques canadiennes. Le présent document est divisé en sept parties : la première décrit le sujet, et énonce les questions de recherche ; la deuxième précise le caractère original de la thèse ; puis viennent la problématique, le cadre théorique, une première recension des théories reliées au champ de la thèse, la méthodologie, et enfin un échéancier qui prévoit un calendrier de réalisation. Le projet de thèse est accompagné de la demande de certification éthique qui nous donnera le feu vert pour amorcer les entretiens élaborés dans la partie de la ‘méthodologie’. Puis, finalement une bibliographie relativement complète est présentée dans les dernières pages de ce projet de thèse. […] La quantification est un outil dont la construction aboutit à une convention qui offre non seulement une représentation du monde à un instant t, mais qui permet aussi de « faire des choses qui se tiennent », comme le précisait Alain Desrosières (1993).” (p. 2/3)

The action of numbers, between statistical formality and political trajectories


“Our research aims to problematize the relationship between the uses of statistics and public policies, more specifically in the multi-level governance that innovation brings. The study of public innovation policies seems to us to offer a privileged point of view on the issue of formalization and quantification in the decision-making process. The thesis focuses on the production of knowledge, or the ordinary manufacture of the « number », as carried out at Statistics Canada. We opt for a qualitative method that relies primarily on interviews and documentary analysis. Inspired by the sociology of quantification, the thesis focuses on the form of organization, the types of instruments, knowledge and know-how that contribute to the stabilization of a number in Canadian public policy. This document is divided into seven parts: the first describes the subject and sets out the research questions; the second specifies the originality of the thesis; then comes the problematic, the theoretical framework, an initial review of the theories related to the field of the thesis, the methodology, and finally a timetable for completion. The thesis project is accompanied by the application for ethical certification which will give us the green light to begin the interviews elaborated in the ‘methodology’ section. Then, finally, a relatively complete bibliography is presented in the last pages of this thesis project. [… ] Quantification is a tool whose construction results in a convention that not only offers a representation of the world at a time t, but also makes it possible to « do things that make sense, » as Alain Desrosières (1993) pointed out.” (p. 2/3)

Governance of Transitions in the Swiss Education System. A Study on the Political Regulation of Moving from Primary to Lower-Secondary and from Lower-Secondary to Upper-Secondary Education (GovTrans)

Research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation

Team: Regula Julia Leemann/Raffaella Simona Esposito/Sandra Hafner/Andrea Pfeifer Brändli/Fanny Marila Klaffke

Timing: 1.7.2020 – 30.6.2024

Summary. The study applies a governance perspective to examine how in the Swiss system of educational federalism the transition from primary to secondary education (transition 1) and from lower-secondary to upper-secondary education (transition 2) is governed – that is, regulated, organised, reformed, and legitimised; how differences in governance between the cantons can be explained; what kinds of tensions arise within and between the cantons as a result; and how these are addressed by the relevant actors involved in the governance process. The study’s point of departure is positions in politics, academia, and business that criticise, for various reasons, the cantonal shares of students enrolled in the different pathways of lower-secondary and upper-secondary education. Among the reasons brought forward are inequality of educational opportunities between the cantons, barriers facing children from socially disadvantaged milieus, obstacles to the integration of weaker students in basic vocational training, or the lowering of performance levels in advanced-track upper-secondary education (Gymnasium) in some cantons. These positions point out that education has become an important criterion of social order and reproduction in modern societies, which is why we consider the governance of these two transitions to be an important issue. In Switzerland, these transitions have primarily been investigated from the perspective of individual careers and the underlying factors that influence them. What research has largely failed to examine so far, however, is the institutional perspective of educational provision as well as the rules and processes of distributing students between the various educational pathways. The present study intends to close this research gap by examining (1) the current cantonal structures of educational provision and rules of distribution, their roots and reforms, and comparing them in terms of their political-cultural as well as socio- and economic-structural context; (2) the responsibilities, objectives, strategies, and justifications of the relevant governance actors at all political levels (institutional architecture); and (3) the dynamic events and activities and the resulting tensions and attempts to resolve them in the coordination of action within and between the various levels and groups of actors in the implementation of the transitions. The sociology of conventions provides the theoretical toolbox to analyse the roots of, inertia of, and change in the governance of transitions, identify the plurality of justifications and worth, understand the actors’ criticisms and their attempts to solve problems, and investigate the coordination of action and fields of tension that emerge thereby. The federal structure requires examining such governance at the level of cantons and structures within cantons (regions, municipalities, schools) as well as making comparisons across cantons. To do so, we have chosen nine cantons with different lower-secondary and upper-secondary programmes (multiple case study). The process of selection was guided by theoretical and contrastive considerations. This study further requires an analysis of how differences among the cantons are treated at both the confederate (intercantonal) and federal level. The analytical objective of this research is to reconstruct a convention-based typology of cantonal governance regimes of transitions as well as the underlying political cultures. The data will be collected via interviews with significant actors involved in governance (political-administrative levels, civil society, business associations) and document analyses (regulations, informational documents, consultations, reports). The planned four-year research project will be the first one to provide a theoretically founded description and explanation of the differences in how the Swiss cantons govern the two transitions. The results will supply useful governance knowledge by enabling us to describe and explain specific constellations, patterns of action, and fields of tension within and between cantons.

Digitale Gesundheitsklassifikationen in Apps ̶ Praktiken und Probleme ihrer Entwicklung und situativen Anwendung

Digital health classifications in apps ̶ Practices and problems of their development and of their situational application

New research project applying convention theory, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Location: University of Lucern
Team: Valeska Cappel, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Karolin Kappler (FernUniversität in Hagen, external team member).
Timetable: start 1 April 2019, end 31 March 2022.

Presentation. For several years, more and more people are using health apps to understand and influence their health care. Such apps are offered by health insurances, but can also be downloaded to app stores in seconds on the smartphone. In addition, health professionals such as doctors or fitness trainers use health apps to digitally care for their patients. The use of such apps will give rise to new health data and thus new health knowledge. This health knowledge is of interest to both people in their daily lives, health professionals in the healthcare sector, and private companies that make money with this data. In most cases, health apps are developed by private companies rather than health professionals. It is not clear which values ​​and ideas orient the manufacturers of health apps. It is unclear to what extent the opinions and arguments of health professionals but also the concerns of users of health apps play a role in the development of health apps. Not discussing the criteria of health apps together may mean that medical standards may play a minor role and that health apps may not meet users’ everyday needs. The project will investigate by which ideas health apps are designed by the manufacturers and whether these ideas are also compatible with the users’ ideas. In particular, it will examine how conflicts arise in the introduction of health apps and their application, for example, when people reject or discontinue the use of health apps or even when doctors question the quality of such apps. The project applies convention theory, which assumes that humans follow in their actions and decisions certain « worldviews » that serve as basic orientations. So the research is about the social actors who develop health apps and people who use them. Conflicts can be discovered where people follow different ‘worldviews’.

Keywords: healthcare, self-quantification, health apps, classifications, sociology of conventions, digitalization

Proposition d’un sujet de thèse en économie dans le cadre du Concours d’accès aux contrats doctoraux des établissements d’enseignement supérieur

Directeur de thèse : Christian Bessy, IDHE.S ENS Paris-Saclay,
Contact : bessy@idhe.ens-cachan.fr

Titre : Le rôle des conseils en propriété industrielle dans la valorisation des brevets et la construction des marchés de technologie

Mots-clefs : Conseil en brevet, marchés de technologie, évaluation, politique d’innovation

Il existe aujourd’hui une littérature abondante sur le rôle des intermédiaires dans la construction des marchés de technologie, littérature qui se renouvelle aujourd’hui du fait du développement de plateformes numériques d’innovation ouverte. Mais peu est dit sur la place des conseils en propriété industrielle dans la construction de ces marchés de technologie et des différentes fonctions qu’ils accomplissent allant bien au-delà de la rédaction et du dépôt de brevet : mise en relation et rédaction des accords de licence, évaluation des titres de propriété industrielle, règlement des litiges en contrefaçon. Suivant une approche institutionnaliste en économie, ils participent à l’équipement des marchés en contribuant à la définition des catégories juridiques mais aussi des conventions en matière d’évaluation des titres de propriété industrielle et de langage de description des inventions techniques. Cette analyse pourrait s’inscrire dans l’écriture d’une histoire économique contemporaine du droit de la propriété industrielle prenant pleinement en compte le rôle de ces intermédiaires à côté de celui des juristes et des économistes (et des ingénieurs). Il s’agit de comprendre plus précisément depuis les années 1980 l’hyper valorisation que connaît le système de brevet et sa critique récente en matière d’innovation, au nom d’un « retour des communs », en examinant une voie explicative autre que celle qui repose sur le laxisme des offices de propriété industrielle conduisant les examinateurs à accorder des brevets de mauvaise qualité.

Le travail empirique commencerait par une série d’interviews auprès de ces intermédiaires avec la visée de déboucher sur une enquête statistique concernant leur mode d’organisation. Le doctorant pourrait s’appuyer dans un premier temps sur l’annuaire des Conseils en propriété industrielle qui permettrait de réaliser une première cartographie de ces intermédiaires (taille du cabinet, région d’implantation, activités (brevet, marque, dessin et modèle)). Dans un deuxième temps, l’idée serait de construire un échantillon représentatif de ces cabinets de conseil pour leur adresser un questionnaire statistique permettant d’appréhender les formes d’organisation et de gestion de leurs activités, ainsi que leurs stratégies de développement.

Différents indicateurs statistiques permettraient d’éclairer l’action collective de régulation de cette profession et de sa fusion éventuelle avec la profession d’avocats qui existe dans différents pays européens mais qui n’a pas vu le jour en France, malgré des tentatives allant de ce sens depuis une douzaine d’années.

The role of the industrial property attorneys in the valuation of patents and the construction of technology markets

Key words: Patent agents, markets for technology, valuation, innovation policy

Today there is an abundant literature on the role of intermediaries in building markets for patented technology. But little is said about the role of industrial property attorneys in the construction of these markets for technology and different functions they perform well beyond writing and filing of patent: matching between licensor and licensee and design of licensing agreements, assessment of industrial property titles, infringement litigation. Following an institutionalist approach in economics, they participate in the equipment of markets for technology contributing to the definition of the legal categories but also conventions of valuation of the titles of industrial property. This analysis could register in writing a contemporary economic history of the law of industrial property taking full account of the role of these intermediaries beside that of lawyers and economists (and engineers). It comes to understand more precisely since the 1980s the hyper development that knows the patent system and its recent criticism, on behalf of a ‘return of the Commons’, by examining one explanatory path other than that based on the laxity of the industrial property offices driving examiners to grant patents of poor quality. The empirical work would begin with a series of interviews with these intermediaries with the aim to lead to a statistical survey regarding their mode of organization, the way they develop their activities and they manage different resources or assets.