Logo della Fondazione Giannino Bassetti


Innovation is the ability to achieve the improbable

Intestazione stampa


Temi in evidenza, a cura della Redazione

Home > Focus > International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: An Overview

International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: An Overview

by Jonathan Hankins [1], 26 June 2019

July of 2019 sees the release of the International Handbook on Responsible Innovation. A Global Resource [2], edited by René von Schomberg and myself, Jonathan Hankins. The Handbook represents the largest collection so far put together in the field of Responsible Innovation, with 64 authors offering 36 chapters and interviews covering much of the globe and many of the broad array of fields of interest addressed through scholarship and action over recent years.

Regular readers will know many of the authors already, as several have long working relationships with the Bassetti Foundation. I myself have a chapter in which I explain how the Bassetti Foundation perspective can be seen as having grown out of Milanese working practices and the political and industrial experiences of members of the Bassetti family and the Foundation as an institution, and President Piero Bassetti himself is interviewed by Sally Randles in a wide ranging and eye opening discussion about the development of the concept here in Milan.

In this the first part of a series, I hope to offer readers a concise overview of the introduction, rationale and the chapters that form part 1 of the Handbook, using previously unpublished abstracts written by the authors themselves. Before the abstracts I would first like to present an outline of the introduction and preliminary section of the Handbook.

The handbook opens with an editorial introduction written by René von Schomberg and myself, before von Schomberg asks the question of 'why responsible innovation?

1. Introduction to the International Handbook on Responsible Innovation

René von Schomberg and Jonathan Hankins

In this co-authored introduction, von Schomberg and myself outline the development of the concept of RI and its promotion and uptake by several large funding bodies (not least the European Union) before describing how the body of work presented in the Handbook addresses the conceptual issues underlying responsible innovation (Part I and the focus of this post), the link with societal desirable outcomes in terms of grand societal challenges (Part II), emerging technologies (Part III) and cultural and regional dimensions (Part IV).

In such a broad field any collection reflecting the various standpoints and positions will also have to be broad, and this collection is certainly so. We argue that all of the authors share something in common however, and that these commonalities are reflected in von Schomberg's well known definition of Responsible Research and Innovation:

Responsible Research and Innovation is a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its marketable products (in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological advances in our society). (Von Schomberg 2013, p. 63)

We explain however that the definition was proposed as a starting point for a field rather than an end result. It is meant to be the representation of a framework for action through which (via the work presented in the collection) the issues addressed in the definition above can be addressed and investigated.

The following abstracts were submitted by the authors and published with the consent of Edward Elgar Publishing.

Abstracts and key words

2. Why responsible innovation?

René von Schomberg

In this overview chapter I identify the following deficits of the research and innovation system: existing market failure to deliver on societally desirable innovation outcomes; lack of open research and scholarship; lack of normative design of technologies and foresight. Together these deficits form the basis for a plea for responsible innovation to be embedded in public policy.

The deficits described are derived from the exclusive focus on risk and safety issues as state responsibility, the lack of any public governance of outcomes of research and innovation and the non-alignment of public values under public research and innovation policies that overemphasize the macro-economic benefits of innovation.

Keywords: responsible innovation, open scholarship, technology foresight, risk


Part 1 is divided into three subsections: Responsibility and Ethics; Governance; Responsible Innovation in Organizations.

Responsibility and Ethics

3. Responsible Innovation: Process and Politics

Richard Owen and Mario Pansera

This chapter analyses the emergence and evolution of discourse surrounding Responsible Innovation during its adoption into the European Framework Programme of Research and Innovation under the name 'Responsible Research and Innovation'. This chapter shows that the politics of science and innovation has always been central to the rationale for Responsible Innovation, but discourse on Responsible Innovation has fallen short of discussing the political question of which sort of future we want innovation to create. The authors go beyond a predominantly process based form of the responsible innovation implementation, seeking to address 'a change for the good' through a call for collective engagement that raises profound questions of what a right and good future should be, and which types of change we want to favour in order to help this future to come into being.
Keywords: Responsible Innovation, reflexivity, anticipation

4. Choosing Freedom: Ethical Governance for Responsible Research and Innovation

Robert Gianni

In this chapter I provide an overview of the concept of responsibility which advocates the overcoming of its usual fragmentation by connecting its overall sense to the objective it is called to protect and develop, freedom. By proposing a social understanding of individual freedom, I suggest that a similar, complex understanding of responsibility can protect it from misleading or malevolent usages. I then integrate such theoretical features into an ethical and pragmatic governance framework aimed at increasing social engagement through communicative means. This enables us to think of a conception of RRI as the immanent actualisation defining what and who counts as responsible in the overall promotion of freedom(s).
Keywords: responsible innovation, freedom, ethics

5. Towards an Ethics-of-Ethics for Responsible Innovation

Vural Özdemir

Responsible innovation is an emerging social movement, concept and practice in governance of science and technology. Yet, responsible innovation cannot be fully understood without its historical origins and the gravitational pulls that are impacting its development. Responsible innovation is emerging against a backdrop of: (1) bioethics scholarship that has been transformed over the past two decades such that a major wing of the discipline has adopted a utilitarian 'science enabler' functionalist role situated in immediate proximity (and perhaps too close) to the science and technology actors, and (2) the field of science and technology studies (STS), which has traditionally offered critical insights into the 'backstage' of science and technology, deconstructing the ways in which context, power and politics play an ever-present role in scientific knowledge co-production.

I propose in this chapter that for responsible innovation to evolve in a manner that is as socially responsive and responsible as the science it seeks to shape, a new epistemic layer of inquiry should be added, termed 'ethics-of-ethics'. Recognition of ethics-of-ethics would foster greater reflexivity on the importance of processes of knowing, not only in natural science and technology, but also in social sciences and humanities. Such nested governance and independent crosschecking of knowledge co-production in both science and ethics would ensure that scientist, social scientist, humanists and ethicist are held accountable through transparency, for example, in the epistemological choices made, the upstream agendas created, and the ends to which socio-technical analyses are intended to serve.

Keywords: Responsible Innovation, bioethics, reflexivity

6. Working Responsibly Across Boundaries? Some Practical and Theoretical Lessons

Kjetil Rommetveit, Niels van Dijk, Kristrún Gunnarsdóttir, Kate O'Riordan, Serge Gutwirth, Roger Strand and Brian Wynne

This paper examines some of the tensions between the ideals and the operationalisation of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). We are interested in those kinds of "integrations" that take place, as social scientists, humanities and legal scholars, seek out closer collaborations with scientists, innovators, engineers, industrialists and policy makers. Our aim is to address some aspects of what actually happens, as collaborations are worked out (or not) across boundaries, including some of the frictions and problems that arise in practice and theory.

We propose a concept of epistemic networks to describe and articulate contemporary networked-based problem solving to innovate and address societal issues. Situated within the broader horizon of an empirical investigation into integration of assessments in digital and smart technology domains, we recount three (practical and theoretical) lessons for RRI.

Our lessons stem from three persistent problems: the framing of research questions, inter-disciplinarity in practice, and the role of law in interdisciplinary collaborations. We argue that such problems, being simultaneously epistemic and normative, should not be seen as mere obstacles to be done away with in order for innovation to run its course. Rather, they are pointers towards critical sites and sources for the deepening of RRI in theory and in practice.

Keywords: responsible innovation, epistemic networks, interdisciplinarity


7. Understanding the Movement(s) for Responsible Innovation

Miles Brundage and David H. Guston

This chapter aims to present a complex picture of the movements for responsible innovation (RI) through literature review and interview-based research, providing a historical and sociological perspective on developments within the broad RI field. The recent rise of responsible innovation in the literature and in practice is characterized as being, in part, a scientific-intellectual movement (SIM), although the movement's aims and scope extend well beyond the scientific and intellectual communities and are not restricted merely to the changes in patterns of thought that most SIMs aim to achieve.
This factor, along with the difficulties faced in bounding the field, represents a challenge for sociological theorizing about SIMs and the changes happening in modern research and innovation, leading to findings that are relevant both for the enrichment of the social studies of science and technology as well as to those seeking to further advance RI theories and agenda.

Keywords: responsible innovation, scientific intellectual movement, artificial intelligence

8. Is Innovation Always Good for You? New Policy Challenges for Research and Innovation

Luc Soete

Traditionally innovation is being associated with a positive image. At the policy level, it is practically impossible to be negative about innovation. Yet, the policy slogan "Innovation is Good for You" remains somewhat surprising given the fact that innovation failure rather than innovation success appears to have been the most common feature of innovation processes. Both the historical as well as international evidence highlights that innovation, and more broadly the introduction of new technologies, do not always represent Schumpeterian processes of "creative destruction", i.e. processes which renew a society's dynamics leading to higher levels of economic development, destroying a few incumbents to the benefit of many, but now and then seem to represent the exact opposite pattern: processes of "destructive creation" with innovation benefitting a few at the expense of many. The underlying causes for such "destructive creation" processes and the policy challenges they pose call for close attention.

Keywords: responsible innovation, creative destruction, economic development

9. First Steps in Understanding the Economic Principles of Responsible Research and Innovation

Miklós Lukovics, Benedek Nagy and Norbert Buzás

The area of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has gained credibility in scientific research and innovation policy in recent years. Uncertainty, ignorance and negative side-effects associated with innovation have created a school of thought that holds that research and innovation should be responsibility-driven in terms of their impact on society, human beings and the environment. Academically, RRI is buttressed by a body of research: definitions, elements, key factors, dimensions and framework conditions have already been explored. Socio-technical integration has also been verified as a key element of the RRI framework. However, an explanation of the background of RRI in economic terms is still underrepresented in the multidisciplinary RRI framework.

In this paper we use simple economic concepts from the neo-classical school to encourage non-economist scholars of responsible innovation to employ the economic way of thinking to this field. We hope to demonstrate that the notion of responsibility can be grasped with familiar tools to the economist community and that this point of view is capable of offering ideas to promote responsible behavior in innovation. Instead of being technical we rather want to be thought-provoking and hope to facilitate RRI research with an economic foundation.

Keywords: responsible innovation, economic principles, socio-technical integration

10. Responsible Innovation in the Broader Innovation System. Reflections on Responsibility in Standardization, Assessment and Patenting Practices.

Ellen-Marie Forsberg

This chapter takes as a point of departure that responsibility in research and innovation concerns actors beyond the researchers and innovators themselves and their institutions. More specifically, I reflect upon the application of RRI in three different parts of the research and innovation systems; standardisation in nanotechnology, assessment of emerging science and technologies in general and patenting in biotechnology. Operationalising RRI in terms of four dimensions, I first summarise findings on the RRI status in these three practices, then I take an integrated look at what these findings imply for the application of the four RRI dimensions to the broader research and innovation system. The analysis highlights issues related to the political nature of agenda setting for research and innovation, challenges of capacity building for broad stakeholder involvement, the elusive nature of reflexivity, and the problem of documenting genuine societal responsiveness.

Keywords: Responsible innovation, standardisation, patenting practices, technology assessment

11. Dynamics of Responsible Innovation Constitution in European Union Research Policy: Tensions, Possibilities and Constraints.

Hannot Rodriguez, Andoni Ibarra and Andoni Eizagirre

Over the last three decades, research policy in the European Union (EU) has increasingly taken on board criteria of responsibility, while actively promoting R&D activities. However, these initiatives need to be analysed in light of the way they coalesce with the prescriptive impulse of innovation, primarily conceived as a socio-economically strategic construct. The evolution and scope of responsible innovation policies may be interpreted as attempts to manage the relationships, or trade-offs, between dynamics that are more committed to economic competitiveness and those that appeal for greater openness in innovation processes. This enables us to conceive science and its relations with society in terms of contingency, as posited in its most radical version by the 'Responsible Research and Innovation' (RRI) approach.

However, the fact that there are certain relations more resistant to change is also clear, which is expressed and justified according to an interpretation that seeks to fix boundaries for the relations between science and society. This basic tension, and the open-and-shut dynamics associated with it, need to be addressed through an analysis of the principles, assumptions, objectives and resistances that shape the content, evolution and scope of responsible science and technology policies in Europe.

Keywords: Responsible Innovation, research policy, European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

12. The Ties that Bind- Collective Experimentation and Participatory Design as Paradigms for Responsible Innovation

Alfred Nordmann

Research and innovation should answer to the values that characterize the innovation system as a whole - this is how they can meet societal challenges, advance social and cultural goals, strengthen solidarity. If this is the core ambition of RRI, it requires at least a general idea of what that innovation system is and how values enter into it. Is it modelled on the idea of a planned economy which expects and demands specific technological advances? Is it defined in terms of the 'anthropocene' and a vague acknowledgment of the depth and reach of our technological interventions? This paper considers two other conceptions of the current European innovation system. Both enjoy considerable popularity - collective experimentation and participatory design. On the first conception, Europe is an open laboratory for real-world experiments which are performed by us, in which we are the guinea-pigs, and from which we hope to learn something. On the second conception, the future of Europe is the target of participatory design - everyone of us contributes creatively to the continuous making, remaking and deliberate shaping of our conditions of life. The paper offers two conclusions regarding these two conceptions of the innovation system: Without them, anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion, and responsiveness - the 'four pillars of RRI' - have no traction and remain vacuous. Of the two, participatory design sounds more inviting but collective experimentation is better suited to the tradition and idea of Europe.

Keywords: Responsible innovation, collective experimentation, participatory design

13. Enhancing Micro-foundations of Responsible Innovation: Integration of Social Sciences and Humanities with Research and Innovation Practices

Erik Fisher

Responsible innovation requires scientists, engineers, designers and other technical experts to pay greater attention to the human and social dimensions of their routine practices, since these practices are sources of socio-technical change and hence resources for governing science and technology. Interdisciplinary approaches that seek to collaboratively illuminate and deliberately integrate the human and social dimensions of expert practices have proliferated, even as the challenges they face continue to remain formidable. This chapter considers the variety of approaches to socio-technical integration, arguing that it of necessity embodies multiple and fundamentally divergent rationales for engaging scientific and technical expertise. Such divergences must be reflexively and creatively taken into account if efforts to integrate the social sciences and humanities with research and innovation are to be successful.

Keywords: Responsible Innovation, socio-technical integration, social sciences, humanities

14. Responsible Innovation and Technology Assessment in Europe- Barriers and Opportunities for Establishing Structures and Principles of Democratic Science and Technology Policy

Leonard Hennen and Linda Nierling

Technology Assessment (TA, with a history of 40 years) is a social innovation which needed and still needs institutional and cultural changes to be embedded in societal innovation discourses and practice. In the same way Responsible Innovation (RI) needs cultural and institutional changes. Part of supportive environments for both are without doubt political programs such as the 'soft command and control' like fostering of RI in the current EU framework program for research (Rip 2015). But there are also other boundary conditions to be taken account of such as the state of public awareness of S&T policy making issues, state of economy or support by academia.

It is the purpose of this chapter to reflect on the lessons learned from the longer and winding history of establishing TA as a means of democratic policy advice for the opportunities, barriers and challenges to establish RI on a European level. TA and RI, since they both focus on "giving the public a say" are in need of comparable socio-political-cultural environments to flourish - and these environments are historically changing. In the following we first discuss the features and principles that both concepts, RI and TA, have in common. We then present findings about the historical opportunities and barriers of the institutionalization of TA with the assumption in mind that these can serve as a model for the barriers and opportunities of the practical implementation of RI. We then reflect on what we can learn from the case of TA for RI and to what extend RI is in need of specific supportive environments or is challenged by specific barriers.

Keywords: Responsible innovation, technology assessment, democratic engagement

Responsible Innovation in Organizations

15. To what Extent Should the Perspective of Responsible Innovation Irrigate the Organization as a Whole?

Xavier Pavie

The chapter "To What Extend Should the Perspective of Responsible Innovation Irrigate the Organization as a Whole" deals with responsibility as part of innovation in organization. The application of responsible innovation in organizations requires a closer analysis of different structures and their corresponding innovation strategy and process. As will be detailed in this chapter, the management of the responsible innovation process involves an engagement with stakeholders and members of the general public to determine whether a potential new product or service is acceptable and thus responsible according to social, economic and environmental criteria. It is thus important on the one hand, to consider how the structure of an organization will impact the effective deployment of a responsible innovation strategy. On the other hand, the role of the innovator requires a closer analysis to determine whether it is evolving into a role of moderator at the center of dialogue between stakeholders and members of the general public to collect the most relevant information required to make the best-informed decision with regards to a potential innovation's responsibility and thus, acceptability.

Keywords: Responsible Innovation, organizations, innovation strategy

16. From Participation to interruption: Toward an Ethics of Stakeholder Engagement, Participation and Partnership in Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible Innovation

Vincent Blok

Contrary to the tendency to harmony, consensus and alignment among stakeholders in most of the literature on participation and partnership in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Innovation (RI) practices, in this chapter we ask which concept of participation and partnership is able to account for stakeholder engagement while acknowledging and appreciating their fundamentally different judgments, value frames and viewpoints. To this end, we reflect on a non-reductive and ethical approach to stakeholder engagement, collaboration and partnership, inspired by the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. We contrast a cognitive with an ethical approach to stakeholder engagement, collaboration and partnership, and explore four characteristics of this ethical approach. Based on the ethical approach to stakeholder engagement, collaboration and partnership, we also provide a three-stage framework for partnership formation in CSR and RI practices.
Keywords: Responsible Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility, stakeholder engagement

This series will continue with the publication next week of abstracts from the further sections.


Show/Hide links in this document

Links in this document:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Jonathan Hankins
  2. 2] https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/international-handbook-on-responsible-innovation
CC Creative Commons - some rights reserved.
International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: An Overview
Articles by:  Jonathan Hankins
Search by:
Search video by:

- Mailing list Subscription - Cookies Policy - Privacy Policy -

RSS Feed  Valid XHTML  Diritti d'autore - Creative Commons Gruppo Fondazione Giannino Bassetti in Facebook Gruppo Fondazione Giannino Bassetti in Linkedin Segui la Fondazione Giannino Bassetti in twitter

p.i. 12520270153