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Home > Focus > Sustainability, Special Issue on RRI in Industry.

Sustainability, Special Issue on RRI in Industry.

by Redazione FGB [1], 12 June 2018

The journal Sustainability [2] has recently published a special issue on RRI in industry. Many of our readers will be familiar with the work of many of the Guest Editors: Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem, Prof. Dr. Bernd Stahl, Prof. Dr. Doris Schroeder, Prof. Dr. Andre Martinuzzi and Dr. Vincent Blok.

The articles offer a wide discussion of RRI in various business contexts. Below readers will find copies of the abstracts from each article with links through to the publication. As readers will realize this is a fine collection from many of the world's leading thinkers in the field and an opportunity not to miss.

The open access articles cited below are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Responsible Research and Innovation in Industry--Challenges, Insights and Perspectives [3]
by André Martinuzzi, Vincent Blok, Alexander Brem, Bernd Stahl and Norma Schönherr

The responsibility of industry towards society and the environment is a much discussed topic, both in academia and in business. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has recently emerged as a new concept with the potential to advance this discourse in light of two major challenges industry is facing today. The first relates to the accelerating race to innovate in order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world. The second concerns the need to maintain public trust in industry through innovations that generate social value in addition to economic returns. This Special Issue provides empirical and conceptual contributions that explore corporate motivations to adopt RRI, the state of implementation of concrete RRI practices, the role of stakeholders in responsible innovation processes, as well as drivers and barriers to the further diffusion of RRI in industry. Overall, these contributions highlight the relevance of RRI for firms of different sizes and sectors. They also provide insights and suggestions for managers, policymakers and researchers wishing to engage with responsibility in innovation. This editorial summarizes the most pertinent conclusions across the individual articles published in this Special Issue and concludes by outlining some fruitful avenues for future research in this space

Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation Practices in SMEs: Insights into Drivers and Barriers from the Austrian Medical Device Sector [4]
by Alexander Auer and Katharina Jarmai

This paper addresses the question of how Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can be implemented in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It builds on existing knowledge about RRI in business as well as on insights into motivations, drivers and barriers from the related fields of eco-innovation and sustainability innovation. Expert interviews with CEOs of SMEs in the Austrian medical device sector are analyzed to develop insights into the companies' research and innovation activities and potential drivers and barriers for RRI. The findings support the assumption that SMEs are largely unaware of the RRI concept. At the same time, however, it is possible to identify current practices that already operationalize aspects of RRI. It is argued that SMEs could build upon existing practices to further develop ways of being responsible and that implementation of RRI should be in line with specific organizational and contextual factors

Responsibility versus Profit: The Motives of Food Firms for Healthy Product Innovation [5]
by Jilde Garst, Vincent Blok, Léon Jansen and Onno S.W.F. Omta

Background: In responsible research and innovation (RRI), innovation is seen as a way in which humankind finds solutions for societal issues. However, studies on commercial innovation show that firms respond in a different manner and at a different speed to the same societal issue. This study investigates what role organizational motives play in the product innovation processes of firms when aiming for socially responsible outcomes. Methods: This multiple-case study investigates the motives of food firms for healthier product innovation by interviewing firms about the organizational motives behind product reformulation and innovation. Results: This study highlights the importance of having both instrumental and moral motives in the innovation process when aiming for socially responsible outcomes, and how both these motives interact and contribute to responsible innovation in industry. Furthermore, the study results question the nature of relational motives as a separate category from the other two categories of motives, as suggested by corporate social responsibility (CSR) scholars. Conclusions: If commercial innovation needs to contribute to solutions for societal issues, the importance of moral motives has to be stressed without annihilating the instrumental objectives of firms. Both motives contribute to the success factors of responsible product innovation in industry.

Company Strategies for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI): A Conceptual Model [6]
by Ibo van de Poel, Lotte Asveld, Steven Flipse, Pim Klaassen, Victor Scholten and Emad Yaghmaei

Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has become an important topic in the academic community and in policy circles, but it has not yet been systematically included in the innovation process of companies. We discuss how companies can integrate RRI into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and business strategy. To this end, we developed a conceptual model that links a company's RRI strategy to its context, and that helps to translate the RRI strategy into activities that result in RRI outcomes. We also propose a process for developing company-specific RRI key performance indicators (KPIs) that can support companies to measure RRI outcomes.

Implementation of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Practices in Industry: Providing the Right Incentives [7]
by Agata Gurzawska, Markus Mäkinen and Philip Brey

Abstract: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used by policy-makers and academics to refer to research and innovation that is ethically acceptable and socially desirable. Despite the fact that the vast majority of research and innovation (R&I) is funded and produced by industry, companies tend to have no awareness or recognition of this concept. This is unfortunate, as the RRI paradigm could be mutually beneficial for both business and society: it could help businesses realise competitive opportunities while also leading to positive economic, societal and environmental impacts. This paper investigates how industry can be incentivised to engage in research and innovation following the approach of RRI. We propose a matrix of incentives for stimulating the adoption of RRI. We categorise incentives according to three dichotomies: external and internal, instrumental and non-instrumental, direct and indirect. The incentives are formalised in a causal loop diagram, which can be used to demonstrate the sound character of investing in RRI from a business perspective. We discuss examples of incentives, including corporate reputation and critical consumerism, certification, employee engagement, and governance. Lastly, to ensure effective implementation of RRI, we outline factors for the realisation of successful incentives for RRI in industry

An Investigation into Risk Perception in the ICT Industry as a Core Component of Responsible Research and Innovation [8]
by Kate Chatfield, Elisabetta Borsella, Elvio Mantovani, Andrea Porcari and Bernd Carsten Stahl

This paper makes an original contribution to the responsible research and innovation (RRI) discourse, with an inquiry into the extent to which risk, risk assessment, or risk management, including ethical and social issues, is relevant to companies. As a core component of the higher or "meta-responsibility" of RRI, an investigation of practices and attitudes towards risks can provide us with a window into companies' attitudes towards responsible innovation that is rooted in real-world experiences. Drawing upon data from 30 in-depth interviews and a large Delphi study, we reveal different underlying attitudes towards risk governance for individuals working in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. For some companies, there is already an obvious degree of alignment with RRI values. For others, framing of the RRI discourse in terms of ethical and societal risks may help to promote understanding and uptake. Results from the interviews suggest that lack of awareness of the full extent of ethical and societal risks associated with research and innovation in the ICT industry may act as a barrier to engagement with RRI, and educational activities may be needed to rectify this situation. Results from the Delphi survey suggest that when presented with simple information about potential ethical and societal risks, industry personnel can easily recognise the main risks and provide clear opinions about how they should be addressed. The relationship between risk governance and RRI warrants further investigation as it is an essential facet of RRI.

The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Maturity Model: Linking Theory and Practice [9]
by Bernd Carsten Stahl, Michael Obach, Emad Yaghmaei, Veikko Ikonen, Kate Chatfield and Alexander Brem

Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an approach to research and innovation governance aiming to ensure that research purpose, process and outcomes are acceptable, sustainable and even desirable. In order to achieve this ambitious aim, RRI must be relevant to research and innovation in industry. In this paper, we discuss a way of understanding and representing RRI that resonates with private companies and lends itself to practical implementation and action. We propose the development of an RRI maturity model in the tradition of other well-established maturity models, linked with a corporate research and development (R&D) process. The foundations of this model lie in the discourse surrounding RRI and selected maturity models from other domains as well as the results of extensive empirical investigation. The model was tested in three industry environments and insights from these case studies show the model to be viable and useful in corporate innovation processes. With this approach, we aim to inspire further research and evaluation of the proposed maturity model as a tool for facilitating the integration of RRI in corporate management.

Innovating Responsibly in ICT for Ageing: Drivers, Obstacles and Implementation [10]
by Kate Chatfield, Konstantinos Iatridis, Bernd C. Stahl and Nearchos Paspallis

Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is a nascent concept, promoted actively by the European Union and other policy makers around the world. Hitherto, this concept has been associated primarily with publicly funded activities but given the considerable proportion of research and innovation that is undertaken in the private sector, RRI will be rendered irrelevant unless it is adopted by industry. This paper introduces a private sector perspective of RRI, specifically that of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, working in the field of healthy ageing. Drawing upon empirical data from 30 in-depth interviews with key industry representatives from across Europe, it explores: (a) the level of awareness of RRI; (b) the drivers and obstacles influencing its implementation; and (c) the factors deemed vital for facilitation of RRI in industry. The findings paint a varied picture, including significant concerns about adoption of RRI in an industry environment where the economic implications of all activities must be considered carefully. However, some companies have found their own ways to balance financial and altruistic goals, suggesting that there is both a willingness and a place for an RRI-type governance framework within the private sector.

Lessons for Responsible Innovation in the Business Context: A Systematic Literature Review of Responsible, Social and Sustainable Innovation Practices [11]
by Rob Lubberink, Vincent Blok, Johan van Ophem and Onno Omta

This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing conceptual debate on responsible innovation, and provides innovation practices and processes that can help to implement responsible innovation in the business context. Based on a systematic literature review of 72 empirical scholarly articles, it was possible to identify, analyse and synthesise empirical findings reported in studies on social, sustainable and responsible innovation practices in the business context. The synthesis of the included articles resulted in a refined framework for responsible innovation in the business context. This framework includes an overview of innovation practices and processes that can enhance the dimensions of responsible innovation: anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion, deliberation, responsiveness and knowledge management. Additionally, knowledge gaps are identified and a research agenda for responsible innovation is proposed. This review can therefore serve as a next step in the theoretical and practical development of responsible innovation in general, and in the business context in particular.


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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10
  3. 3] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/3/702
  4. 4] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/1/17
  5. 5] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/12/2286
  6. 6] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/11/2045
  7. 7] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/10/1759
  8. 8] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/8/1424
  9. 9] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/6/1036
  10. 10] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/6/971
  11. 11] http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/5/721
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Sustainability, Special Issue on RRI in Industry.
Articles by:  Redazione FGB
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