The literature on the politics of science and on science policy is dominated by information about large and highly industrialized countries. For example, models of the different forms of science policy administration and management tend to derive from French, U.S., and British exemplars. Yet in the mid-1990s there is a growing number of small nations, all of which are seeking to harness research communities to the cause of socioeconomic development, while still extracting "value for money" from science budgets. This article uses the case study approach—focusing on the political economy of the politics of science in the Irish Republic, chiefly since the 1950s-to analyze the problems faced by science policy agencies and the scientific community in small nations. The study offers analogies and possible insights into the politics of research policy in other small nations ; it also aims to throw light on emerging research policy trends even in bigger countries as the "bargain" between the funders and the performers of research becomes more and more explicit and increasingly subject to economic justifications.