Autonomy and Expectations


Autonomy and Expectations: The Evolution of University Social Research Centers
A Public Lecture by Leland Joseph R. Dela Cruz

In cooperation with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development and
Center for Integrative and Development Studies
25 June 2013 (Tuesday) 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m
Third World Studies Center
Lower Ground Floor, Palma Hall
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City


This study tries to make sense of the evolution of nine University Social Research Centers in the Philippines (USRCs). It provides an explanation for the tensions and crises some of these USRCs have faced in the past and some continue to face today.

Luhmannian systems analysis is extended to frame the situation in terms of autonomy and expectations. USRCs are analyzed as organizations struggling to maintain their autonomy in the midst of expectations from other social systems. USRCs are located within the context of their relationships with their universities, their funders, and the people associated with these USRCs. It also shows how the changing environment affected these USRCs.

Tensions and crises faced by USRCs can be accounted for by two factors: incongruent expectations between these USRCs and systems in their environment, and the inability of USRCs to adequately respond to changes in their environment.

Incongruent expectations can be seen in the relationship between the USRCs and their universities in terms of differences in their understanding of the nature of a university, differences in research orientation, differences in expectations for researchers, and differences in expectations for university decision programs and channels. USRCs’ tendency to align themselves with the expectations of funders further marginalizes them from their university.

Key environmental changes that affect USRCs include changes in personnel in all organizations involved, the increase in competition, and changing practices in knowledge production for both universities and policy-oriented research. Some USRCs were not able to evolve along with the changes in their environment.

Various strategies deployed by USRCs, universities, and people associated with these USRCs are also discussed and this study shows how these strategies either strengthened or weakened USRC autonomy.

Opening Remarks and Introduction of Speaker
Dr. Ricardo T. Jose
Director, UP TWSC and
Professor, Department of History
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman

Leland Joseph R. Dela Cruz
Director and Assistant Professor, Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University and
PhD Student, Department of Sociology,
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman

Dr. Zosimo E. Lee
Professor, Department of Philosophy, and
Former Dean, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman

Open Forum