The Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are a major employer of scientists in New Zealand. Currently there are eight CRIs. (There were nine: Crop and Food and HortResearch merged to form Plant and Food Research in 2008.)

Reports in the media have suggested the government is considering investigating mergers of the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs). Some sources suggest that the extreme action would be to create just three CRIs from the current eight; one report names three sections based around primary industries, the resource sector and the natural environment.

It has been remarked that mergers would run counter to the recommendations of last year’s review of the CRIs.

I wrote this last night and waited thinking that a statement might emerge that would give further clarity: there has been no further news thus far. My own impression is that some CRI heads have pressed their views to MPs, who have forwarded them to cabinet, where they have been at least noted.

As you would expect, there is commentary on-line and in the media. Below I’ve listed some that may shed light–or at least food for thought–on the subject:

Merger of research institutes on the cards (Vernon Small, Dominion Post)

CRI mergers ‘could send scientist overseas’ (Vernon Small, The Press)

Government Mistakes Motion for Movement (David Shearer, Labour Party press release. [For those from overseas: the opposition to the current government.]) David Shearer has asked The Minister of Science and Innovation, Wayne Mapp, ’What steps, if any, has he taken for the merger of CRIs since the CRI Task Force?’ with a reply due 18th April.

Minister needs to come clean on merger plans for CRIs – the Public Service Association

Scientists worried about talk of CRI mergers (Radio New Zealand News)

A New DSIR? – Terry Porritt pokes fun at that these institutions were formed by splitting the DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research), along with the MAF research division, and that mergers would in effect re-create a DSIR-scale institution (albeit one run on different lines).

I know too little about the higher-level management of CRIs to say much beyond generalised thoughts. I’m an independent consultant, not a (past) senior manager within the CRIs. But perhaps there’s a place for stating the seemingly obvious, or  discussing what those within the ranks or wider community think? Mergers may look to longer-term efficiencies, but would cause (major) short-term disruption: would they be warranted on balance – that sort of thing.

Rather than comment, then, I open the comments below to those who wish to share their thoughts and want a place to speak out. It’s your space: go for it.