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Home > Focus > Towards a New Model of Management for the Governance of Innovation. Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

Towards a New Model of Management for the Governance of Innovation. Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

by Redazione FGB [1], 15 February 2007

Over the past few years the blog 'Innovation, Risk and Governance' [2]has explored a variety of topics, but it is possible to identify two core (although not always necessarily related) themes. One is the question of the regulation and risk communication of innovation, which include also risk regulation and governance in relation to a) bio- and nano-technologies; b) innovation in healthcare; c) digital technologies; and d) last but not least, WTO's measures on intellectual property. The other has been oriented towards addressing such question from a conceptual/theoretical perspective, specifically with hindsight from the field of science, politics and technology studies. Here we will briefly review and summarise some of the key articles that have been published in the blog Innovation, Risk & Governance.

Bio and nanotechnologies emerge from the convergence of biology, computing and robotics. In this arena we have sought to elicit views on the development as well as improvement of the democratic procedures and the deliberative methods being used for risk communication to enhance public participation in the governance of these innovations. We have stressed that such processes pose wide ranging governance challenges introducing a new science based regime for the 'domestication' and marketisation of these technologies, including the definition of the decision-making structures for the development, introduction and diffusion of these technologies on a very large scale; the governance arrangements for determining their risk assessment and appropriate level of health protection; and the communication of the responsibility for the sharing and management of risk.

We reckon this as a debate which will be contentiously open for quite some time. This view is also expressed by Dr Tom Horlick-Jones as he put it in the concluding remarks of his talk at the London School of Economics in the series on the 'Public Understanding of Science'. Horlick-Jones discussed also the role of lay and expert knowledge in citizen engagement processes, defining them with the metaphor of ‘information systems' running in digital as well as non digital platforms as it had happened in the 'GM Nation' public debate in the UK. On one hand this means that citizens and civil society organisations can have access to a far wider range of materials and sources of information to frame public debate and policy making, on the other it is difficult to ultimately identify whose competence and responsibility it is to decide (see Bassetti, 2006 [3]).

Making a leap now to address digital technologies as well as information resources, the WTO's policy framework for intellectual property, a very contentious issue for the regulation of international trade, is briefly explained in a short article available in this blog. This is based on a paper that the author presented at the International Conference on e-Governance at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. Upon request, the report can be made available to the readers of this blog where the author explores how the regulation of digital technologies as well as software, databases and other creative works (which are notoriously characterised by massive fixed costs of original production and low marginal costs of reproduction) affects the spatial distribution of trade of goods and services and how it influences the dynamics of international trade development.

The introduction of regulatory measures in these areas are a clear sign that deep changes are taking place and not only in the developing world, but also in the developed world. One case which clearly portrays this is the modernisation of the public administration and the modality in which it delivers public services. Here innovation (alias the introduction of technologies of information and communication for e-government and e-governance) is expected to improve coordination, cooperation and flexibility and reduce risk in public service provision. In health services in particular, technologies of information and communication are also expected to contribute to the management and reduction of risk and therefore carry a great responsibility. To be sure, the sustainability of technological innovation in healthcare [4]in particular (but in the public administration in general) requires substantial steps towards good governance.

Another core theme of the blog ‘Innovation, Risk and Governance' has been the democratic responsibility of scientific power [5] and the exploration of the role that science plays for governance of innovation [6]. These pieces constituted the backbone for the more recent articles exploring the introduction of bio and nano-technologies from the perspective of science, politics and technology studies and in parallel with the call for comments on 'Which Responsibility?' [7] conducted by Cristina Grasseni, (which saw also the participation of experts of the caliber of Daniel Callahan, Bruno Latour and Nikolas Rose).

So what is the outlook for the year ahead? The topics we have explored over the last couple of years are, of course, still of great interest, but the couture of the debate is taking new interesting forms partly already predicted by previous articles, activities and call for comments in the website of the Bassetti Foundation. See for instance:

- The Bassetti Lectues organised between 2002 and 2005, a summary is available here [8]
- The lecture of Bruno Latour [9], which touches on: the increased participation of non-experts in the practice of science, the blurring of the borderlines between science and politics, the new forms of representation of technical and scientific innovation, and the emergence of "hybrid forums" (situations of governance where the representatives of "natural things", such as meteorological events or the discoveries of genetic engineering) as a perspective debate on global warming.
- Piero Bassetti's essay on New Science and New Politics [10]. We reproduce here some quotes: 'For innovation, the contribution of science, while fundamental, was not enough and it was necessary to build on the scientific hypothesis, technology and capital, adding other factors such as creativity, willingness to take risks, managerial capabilities; factors that it was able to acquire, teaming up the scientist with the entrepreneur with the goal of achieving the improbable' [...] 'Innovation is a complex phenomenon combining science, technology, finance, management, enterprise and organisations to achieve a goal that is not only scientific but also entrepreneurial and political.'

To this we would add also that as global markets are being structured on the deconcentring and un-systematising of previously monolithic sequences of operations for the production goods and services today's modern organizations have management systems which operate across organizational boundaries and therefore also across various levels of political embeddedness. Therefore, for the future a pragmatic approach may be necessary to frame these questions and delineate policy options which promote and develop new models of governance at the nodes between public policy and the private sector and across organisational boundaries (see for instance in this blog the article 'Experiments without Borders?' [11]).

This understanding thus requires the development of new science and new politics, but also a new managerial capacity and new managerial competencies, in essence an altogether new model of management. In conclusion, we welcome and encourage readers' comments, invitations and suggestions to shape together the agenda of the blog ‘Innovation, Risk and Governance' for 2007 inviting the social and economic actors in light of the recent debates and issues explored by the Bassetti Foundation [12], to identify the key themes in relation to the development of such a new model of governance. A first question could then be: could casting these issues as Global ICT Programmes [13]cater for a much broader inter-disciplinary significance and interest of the issues involved in the creation of such a new model of governance and perhaps provide a lens through which to suggest approaches to the study, analysis and evaluation of responsibility in innovation?

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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] /en/navarra/
  3. 3] /it/argomenti/2006/12/comunicazione_dellinnovazione.html
  4. 4] /en/navarra/2005/02/reflecting_on_the_risk_and_sus.html
  5. 5] /en/navarra/2005/05/the_democratic_responsibility.html
  6. 6] /en/navarra/2006/03/science_politics_and_responsib.html
  7. 7] /en/grasseni/2006/02/quale_responsabilita_parte_1_i.html
  8. 8] /it/segnalazioni/2006/12/sapere_fare_potere_il_nuovo_li_1.html
  9. 9] /it/eventi/2006/12/bruno_latour_in_milan.html
  10. 10] /en/en-frameset.html?content=http://www.fondazionebassetti.org/06/argomenti/2005_02.htm#000346
  11. 11] /en/navarra/2006/11/experiments_without_borders_et.html
  12. 12] /
  13. 13] http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/informationSystems/PhDProgramme/abstractsOfPhDTheses/since1995/navarra.htm
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