Die Versuchung der Wissenschaft

Überall in der Welt sorgen sich Wissenschaftler über den wachsenden Einfluss von Unternehmen auf die Forschung an den Universitäten. Sie wissen, dass direkte finanzielle Verbindungen zum privaten Sektor ihren Leumund als unabhängige und integre Instanzen beschädigen kann. Trotzdem werden die traditionellen Grenzen zwischen Forschung und Industrie langsam aber sicher durchlässiger - manchmal sogar niedergerissen. Fadenscheinige Argumente wie das von der freien Wirtschaft diskreditieren die öffentlichen Dienste, die diese Grenzen beschützt haben und nicht zuletzt auch die freie, gut informierte und kritische Rede, die für einen öffentlichen Diskurs unerlässlich ist.

Natürlich will jeder Wissenschaftler mehr Geld für sein Forschungsprojekt, und jede Nation braucht so viel fähige Wissenschaft, wie sie nur bekommen kann. Aber Wissenschaft ist teuer: warum also wählerisch sein, wenn ein Unternehmen mit einem tadellosen Ruf bereit ist, dafür zu bezahlen?

Industrielle Forschung ist ein enormer Vermögenswert für eine Gesellschaft und nicht weniger wertvoll für die Weiterentwicklung der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis. Aber Unternehmen sind keine Philanthropen. Sie stehen unter einem konstanten Konkurrenzdruck und Aktionäre erwarten einen Ertrag aus ihrer Investition. Auch wenn sie nicht versuchen, sich den alleinigen Zugang zu ertragreichen neuen Entdeckungen zu erkaufen, sind sie immer interessiert an einer Vorzugsbehandlung. Wertvolle Geschenke kommen leicht in den Verdacht, sie sollten immaterielle Dienste erkaufen. Geld für wissenschaftliche Leistungen ist nicht so offensichtlich korrupt wie Geld für parlamentarisches Abstimmungsverhalten, aber es riecht genauso faul.

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