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Home > Focus > Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 7, Issue 3 reviewed - Part 2

Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 7, Issue 3 reviewed - Part 2

by Jonathan Hankins [1], 25 February 2021

(This is the second part of the review of vol 7, issue 3. Here the first. [2])

This mammoth issue of the Journal continues with Civic ethics as a normative framework for responsible research and innovation [3] by Félix Lozano and Irene Monsonís-Payá.

In this article the authors explore the potential of discursive ethics proposed by Habermas and Apel as a foundation for RRI, and the civic ethics developed by Adela Cortina as a source of normative legitimation, explaining their aims to provide a review of the work on discursive ethics and their implications for the RRI framework by:

1) exploring how a civic ethics normative foundation, derived from the discourse ethics of Habermas and Apel and proposed by Adela Cortina, could nourish the narrative around the governance of RRI; and
2) reflecting on the implied challenges and tensions regarding the legitimacy and feasibility of the concept. The do this by a) discussing how the notion of RRI has evolved; b) exploring the dialogical conception of responsibility; and c) investigating the contribution of civic ethics as a normative framework for RRI.

Beginning with a description of the evolution of the term RRI, the authors focus on responsibility (from a utilitarian to a dialogic conception of responsibility) before moving on to civic ethics as a normative framework for RRI (From discursive ethics to civic ethics and on to Implications of civic ethics for RRI), before a short conclusion in which they express the need to integrate the principles of inclusion, symmetry, no coercion, disclosure and accountability into RRI.

In Who gets to be born? The anticipatory governance of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis technology in the United Kingdom from 1978-2001 [4], Shannon N. Conley focuses on explicating and understanding important State and societally-wide capacities of the nation-state to govern emerging technologies, exploring links between anticipatory governance and responsible innovation.

The paper argues that anticipatory governance is also the process of opening up existing 'socio-technical contracts,' understood as the various social, cultural, and technological configurations and assumptions related to a particular policy sphere. The author shows that when analyzed as a whole, the informal and formal mechanisms in British society suggest a latent form of proto-anticipatory governance around pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) technology.

After describing the relationship between anticipatory governance and responsible innovation, the author focusses on the role of the United Kingdom's governmental approach and creation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) (alongside the influence of other traditional elements of democratic society), before moving on to a discussion.

The paper concludes with a conclusion that clarifies one of the central ideas of the argument, ensemblization in action.

A cross-dimensional analysis of nanotechnology and equality: examining gender fairness and pro-poor potential in Canada's R&D landscape [5] from Gita Ghiasi , Matthew Harsh and Andrea Schiffauerova is the next research article.

The study presented provides a cross-dimensional analysis of two equity concerns related to Canadian nanotechnology, investigating the relationship between the development of nanotechnology applications that benefit the poor and the gender gap in the scientific workforce.

Throughout the article the authors examine inequality across economic and social dimensions using a combination of bibliometrics with employment data, applying Cozzens's theory of equity to nanotechnology to provide what the authors describe as the first quantitative, cross-dimensional analysis of nanotechnology and inequality.

The conclusion offers an overview of the results described throughout the paper, concluding that (among other things) lack of coordination at governmental level (or understanding) can lead to a worsening of gender inequalities at a national level despite what we might see as approaches adopted whose aims are to address the 'grand challenges' on a global level.

In Reducing inequality through technology diffusion: the case of 3D printing in public libraries [6], Thomas Woodson , Nataliia Telendii and Robert Tolliver determine the availability and accessibility of 3D printing technology in low-income communities through public libraries and give insights on how libraries use 3D printers.

The authors pose two main questions:
Are 3D printers available to patrons in low-income communities in the United States? Is the technology accessible to patrons in low income communities in the United States?

And propose two hypotheses:
(1) Libraries in wealthy communities are more likely to have 3D printers than libraries in poor communities, and as a result, the technology is increasing inequality and (2) the technology will not be accessible to most of the patrons due to the cost of printing and the lack of training to use the printer. The article then moves on to a methodological description followed by a discussion of results.

Through their analysis of survey data and interviews with librarians the authors offer first their quantitative findings (some quite surprising) and then qualitative, before discussing whether they can confirm their hypotheses and making some policy recommendations.

Responsible innovation in school design - a systematic review [7]
from Joanne Deppeler and Kathleen Aikens follows, the authors drawing on empirical findings from recent international research to apply four dimensions of a RI Framework to gain a more specific understanding of RI in new school design and identify what might guide future innovation.

After a detailed methodology section the authors outline key findings within the four dimensions of responsible innovation as proposed by Stilgoe et.al. (anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion, and responsiveness), drawing attention to intra-dimensional connections, before concluding with some recommendations.

After a brief synthesis, the article moves into discussion format and proposes an agenda for future research focused on (1) cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research, and underpinned by (2) collaborative multi-sectoral engagement.

In Advantages and disadvantages of societal engagement: a case study in a research and technology organization [8], Marc Steen and Joram Nauta review relevant literature in order to identify and discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of societal engagement (SE) and present a case study of one SE initiative within a Research and Technology Organization (RTO) in order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of SE in practice.

The authors propose two research questions that result in a list of proposed advantages and disadvantages:

What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of Societal Engagement? Addressed by discussing several insights from Technology Assessment and Stakeholder Theory, and by reviewing several relevant domains of practice in design and innovation.

What advantages and disadvantages do people involved in organizing Societal Engagement activities perceive in practice? Addressed via a case study of one SE initiative: the involvement of civil society organizations (COs) in Strategy Advisory Councils (SACs).

The article than describes a case study, a form of action research carried out by the authors through their employment, with a series of advantages and disadvantages explained from experience before a discussion section that centres on working towards shared goals in an organization and brings in Vincent Blok's approach.

Why do newly industrialized economies deter to adopt responsible research and innovation?: the case of emerging technologies in Korea [9] from Eunok Ko, Jungsub Yoon and Yeonbae Kim is next, in which the authors attempt to advance RRI in Korea by using the analytical hierarchy process approach to identify and prioritize the expected RRI barriers to autonomous vehicles and biotechnology.

After an introduction, Section 2 offers a review of related RRI literature, Section 3 classifies the barriers to RRI adoption, Section 4 describes the Analytical Hierarchy Process method used for the analysis, Section 5 provides results and a discussion of the findings while Section 6 presents conclusions.

The barriers found (largest obstacles were the increase of innovation costs due to RRI implementation, lack of an economic incentive to participate in RRI, lack of clear RRI policies/unclear focus on RRI regulation, lack of political leadership/trust to lead RRI change, and difficulty in identifying the impacts of emerging technologies on society) are ranked, with proposals offered for how these barriers could be addressed within this specific context.

The authors conclude with a short discussion of their findings and a conclusion.

In The responsible innovation in health tool and the need to reconcile formative and summative ends in RRI tools for business [10], P. Lehoux , H.P. Silva , R.R. Oliveira and L. Rivard apply the Responsible Innovation in Health Tool to 16 health innovations from Canada and Brazil.

The Tool is one of few to offer external assessment, with findings described that show the extent to which the nine attributes of the Tool are fulfilled, shedding light on how entrepreneurs materialize these responsibility considerations.

The authors first provide an overview of the frameworks and tools meant to support the integration of RRI into businesses and introduce the RIH Tool, before describing the methodology and materials used for the study and their findings.

They conclude that due to its external assessment capability, RIH Tool increases transparency and can provide entrepreneurs with a concrete set of responsibility trade-offs to consider at an early stage of development, while also arguing that reconciling formative and summative ends in the development of RRI tools has the potential to make the field's normative expectations towards businesses more actionable.

The first Perspective piece in the issue is Responsible research, inequality in science and epistemic injustice: an attempt to open up thinking about inclusiveness in the context of RI/ RRI [11], in which Susanne Koch opens up thinking about inclusiveness in the context of RI/RRI by linking the discourses with scholarship on inequality and epistemic injustice in science.

Koch argues the need to start an interdisciplinary conversation and consider an inward dimension of responsible research: a collective duty to care for diversity and address inequalities within the scientific field and the RI community itself, offering some painful examples of lack of diversity, some of which are very close to home.

The second Perspective is a rather topical COVID-19 and the onlineification of research: kickstarting a dialogue on Responsible online Research and Innovation (RoRI) [12], from Robert Braun, Vincent Blok, Anne Loeber and Ulrike Wunderle.

The authors open up a dialogue on Responsible online Research and Innovation (RoRI), and deliberate particular socioethical opportunities and challenges of the onlineification in collaborative theoretical and empirical research.

The authors analyze how the move to online research in RI might influence the four (oft cited) dimensions of 'Anticipation, Inclusion, Reflection and Responsiveness' (AIRR) and the EC promoted RRI Keys, on three levels (-macro, -meso and -micro), what is lost? What is gained and at what cost?

In a somewhat related perspective, Thomas A. Hemphill offers Biologics regulation, second-to-market competition, and the use of blockchain technology: an opportunity for the FDA to support responsible biotechnology innovation. [13]

After a description of the current situation regarding drug production and problems related to price and competition, the author explains how blockchain mechanisms are (and can be further) used to get beyond some of the problems described.

In Learning to do responsible innovation in industry: six Lessons [14], Ibo van de Poel, Lotte Asveld, Steven Flipse, Pim Klaassen, Zenlin Kwee, Maria Maia, Elvio Mantovani, Christopher Nathan, Andrea Porcari and Emad Yaghmaei, explain how their experiences in the EU-funded project PRISMAallowed them to formulate six lessons: (1) Strategize for stakeholder engagement; (2) Broaden current assessments; (3) Place values center stage; (4) Experiment for responsiveness; (5) Monitor RRI progress; and (6) Aim for shared value.

Each lesson is explained, followed by a brief conclusion: RRI implementation should do justice to contextual factors and should start bottom-up, from what is already happening in a company or technological sector but requires top-down monitoring, while trying to avoid two pitfalls: an overreliance on anticipation and placing too much emphasis on creating trust and legitimacy, which runs the risk of instrumentalizing trust.

The final article in this issue is the Joint declaration on mainstreaming RRI across Horizon Europe [15] from Alexander Gerber, Ellen-Marie Forsberg, Clare Shelley-Egan, Rosa Arias, Stephanie Daimer, Gordon Dalton, Ana Belén Cristóbal, Marion Dreyer, Erich Griessler, Ralf Lindner, Gema Revuelta, Andrea Riccio and Norbert Steinhaus.

Based on discussion around the state of-the-art and future perspectives for RRI at the 'Pathways to Transformation' conference in June 2019, numerous largescale EU-funded RRI projects signed a Joint Declaration urging the European Commission to make RRI a key objective of the upcoming framework programme, Horizon Europe.

The document calls for the embedding and mainstreaming of RRI and offers seven distinct points of advice for the Commission.

All of us here at the Foundation would like to congratulate all of the authors and editorial staff involved in this publication, and remind readers that all articles (past and present) published through the Journal of Responsible Innovation [16] are now available open access. Reviews of each issue can be found here [17].


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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Jonathan Hankins
  2. 2] /en/focus/2021/02/review_journal_of_responsible_.html
  3. 3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1816024
  4. 4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1802544
  5. 5] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1804293
  6. 6] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1808151
  7. 7] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1809782
  8. 8] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1813864
  9. 9] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1824667
  10. 10] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1844974
  11. 11] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1780094
  12. 12] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1789387
  13. 13] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1807669
  14. 14] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1791506
  15. 15] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2020.1764837
  16. 16] https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tjri20
  17. 17] https://www.fondazionebassetti.org/tags/Journal%20of%20Responsible%20Innovation
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Journal of Responsible Innovation, Vol 7, Issue 3 reviewed - Part 2
Articles by:  Jonathan Hankins
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