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Responsibilities and division of labour

As mentioned, every CoE has, at the least, an executive board, an internal scientific committee, an external scientific committee and an auditing committee. The CoEs have autonomy in terms of resources, research agenda setting and management of resources, even in cases where a third party is required to act on their behalf, particularly for infrastructure and staffing. In general, they tend to maintain their autonomy in term of management and strategy. Nonetheless, they are very dependent on their host institutions, as they require approval for many procedures and operations.

In terms of the relationship between the CoEs and their hosts (mostly universities), the latter generally act as facilitators of the centres’ activities and benefit as well from the dynamics produced by the relationship. One of the most important features of this relationship is the sharing of staff contractually employed by the host. Indeed, the vast majority of the members of CoEs are university staff, who conduct their research at the centres but whose salaries are paid by the universities. By integrating staff from various departments/faculties working in the CoEs’ research field, the CoEs promote co-operation among researchers from different disciplines and scientific backgrounds and from different faculties. This communication and co-operation between researchers and the added value associated with cross-disciplinary approaches facilitate the development of successful international and industry collaborations, the discovery of new and unexpected pathways in research, and the joint development and implementation of enhanced training programmes. In addition, the international reputation and visibility of the CoEs has a positive impact on the image of their host institutions. In the end, the host also attracts more financial resources and more and better qualified students, researchers and staff.

Most research is performed in the CoEs owing to Portugal’s history of university research and research funding (Teixeira and Koryakina, 2013, p. 185; Frolich et al., 2010, p. 14; FCT, 2013, p. 90). Research is rarely performed in the departments or faculties. The activities of CoEs and their hosts mainly intersect on postgraduate training, with benefits for both parties. There is, therefore, a quite clear-cut division of labour between the CoEs and their hosts in terms of research.

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