Are Dutch universities able to compete with other universities within the European Research Area, and for overseas students? Do research organizations pay sufficient attention to industry interests? Are they too often lured by industry funding and losing their independence? Is research excellence and creativity getting enough space? Is research funding too competitive? On most of these issues there is little systematic evidence to determine what the most appropriate structure and governance of the research system is. To overcome this deficiency, we selected five countries to compare and contrast with the Dutch experiences.