I have a guest post up at Socializing Finance, a blog dedicated to topics and issues in the world of Social Studies of Finance. An excerpt it below. You can read the rest on their blog here.
In a financial report for the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, I read about their S&P Credit rating. Among other things, the rating rests on relatively stable Federal funding. Following the trail, I turned up credit ratings for other large research groups entire academic institutions.
Brief skims of the credit reports indicates Federal funding as a key variable for credit rating decisions. For instance, an except from Moody's review of UCAR (closely associated with the National Center for Academic Research):
STRENGTH: A substantial portion of UCAR's funding is received through a cooperative agreement from the National Science Foundation.
CHALLENGE: UCAR is heavily reliant on federal funding for its research (98% of operating revenues are grants and contracts), with limited revenue diversification, exposing the organization to the risk of contract termination.
Ultimately, I am curious about what it means for the research- societal benefit connection when the credit worthiness of an institution is tied to Federal investment. Does winning grants mean the institutions produces knowledge that advances societal goals or that the institution is just symbolically valuable?
Or are the means supplanting the ends? That is, financial stability was a means to the ends of good research but has come to be an end in itself.
Check out the rest of the post at Socializing Finance, and let me know any thoughts.