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Home > Focus > Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 9, Issue 3

Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 9, Issue 3

by Jonathan Hankins [1], 5 April 2023

This issue contains six research articles, opening with Challenges in the implementation of responsible researchand innovation across Horizon 2020 [2] from Raúl Tabarés, Anne Loeber, Mika Nieminen, Michael J. Bernstein,Erich Griessler, Vincent Blok, Joshua Cohen, Helmut Hönigmayer, Ulrike Wunderle and Elisabeth Frankus.

Based on policy document analysis as a series of interviews carried out as part of the NewHoRRIzon project, the authors argue that there has been limited implementation of RRI in H2020 as the result of conflicts with existing values, sciencecultures, economic objectives, restricted resources for implementation and a lack of clarification around what RRI means.

After an overview and methodology the authors describe the implementation of RRI in H2020, illustrating its 'uneven, irregular and limited implementation', before moving on to discuss structural, cultural and interchange barriers for its implementation.

The final conclusions and discussion section includes a summary of barrier problems and some possible measures and initiatives that could be taken at at EU level as well as highlighting some underlying and more fundamental structural problems with its implementation.

The issue continues with Responsible innovation at work: gamification, public engagement, and privacy by design [3], in which Daniele Ruggiu, Vincent Blok, Christopher Coenen, Christos Kalloniatis, Angeliki Kitsiou, Aikaterini-Georgia Mavroeidi, Simone Milani and Andrea Sitzia investigate gamification at work through the lens of RRI, raising concerns both about privacy due to the massive collection, storage and processing of data, and about the freedom of employees.

The authors describe how the implimentation of gamification can modify a workforce's perception of constraints and stimulate the voluntary assumption of best practices to the benefit of employees and enterprises alike, a process that from an RRI perspective however requires public engagement. They propose the implementation of Privacy by Design, not only to strengthen autonomy through data protection but also in order to develop viable instances of RRI in accordance with human rights.

After an introduction to gamification and its rise in the workplace, the authors raise a series of concerns including around health, privacy, workers' rights and the human relationship to play, through a discussion of several gaming operations currently in use. They then move on to addressing many of the ethical issues that arise in terms of public engagement and 'RRI by design' that includes a very clear explanation of differences in two different approaches to RRI, one from René von Schomberg and the other outlined by Richard Owen and colleagues, proposing a combination of the two.

The privacy by design concept is explained via stakeholder engagement and applied to the GDPR framework, with a discussion of potential RRI correctives to game design elements preceding a short conclusion.

Responsible design and assessment of a SARS-CoV virtual reality rehabilitation programme: guidance ethics in context [4] follows, in which Merlijn Smits, Geke D. S. Ludden, Peter-Paul Verbeek and Harry van Goor investigate how the lived experiences of users could responsibly guide the design and assessment of complex technologies.

In the introduction, the authors explain that Health Technology Assessments (HTAs) should guide the implementation of digital health, but that current approaches tend to be quantitative and miss data regarding user needs and values. They propose empirical research 'to study stakeholders' lived experiences of a complex technology in its context of implementation' through a guidance ethics framework.

After an explanation of how guidance ethics could be implemented, the authors introduce their case study: virtual reality rehabilitation for long COVID. They describe how VR was used, perceived by both patients and clinical staff and some of the effects after use, including on the values of safety, autonomy and self-identity, before moving on to their design, context and user recommendations.

In the discussion that follows the authors lay out their arguments about value identification through lived experience, the advantages (and failings) of qualitative research methods and merging design with assessment, before a short conclusion wraps it all up.

In Norm-critical innovation as a way forward for responsible innovation? Evidence from a Swedish innovation policy program [5], Lea Fuenfschilling, Linda Paxling and Eugenia Perez Vico present the findings of an in-depth analysis of 34 projects funded under the Vinnova program Gender and Diversity for Innovation, asking whether norm-critical innovation practices (NCI) could be a way forward for the implementation of responsible innovation.

After explaining NCI and its aim of identifying, challenging and non perpetuating problematic social norms, the authors describe its relationship with Responsible Innovation before moving on to the methodology. A multitude of qualitative investigation techniques produce data on activities, outputs and impacts with results presented in steps: a review and classification of the main activities and outputs and a tentative assessment of the impact of the projects for project participants as well as the broader environment in relation to the goals of NCI.

Five individual projects are then presented before a wide reaching discussion in which the essence of norm-critical innovation practices are outlined: Identifying and disrupting norms; designing inclusive processes; applying a socio-technical approach; creating knowledge-sharing networks; engaging in advocacy.

The final section raises the question of Norm-critical innovation as a way forward for responsible innovation, and if NCI might constitute a tool to operationalize and implement certain RI principles in a more targeted way.

In Responsible innovation in the age of science conspiracism [6], Eugen Octav Popa and Vincent Blok explore the relationship between responsible innovation and science conspiracism by using the method of thought experimentaiton.

After an introduction in which a definition is given to science conspiracism and conspiracist (for the purpose of the paper), a section explains why this particular stakeholder group poses a peculiar challenge to the field of responsible innovation and its goal of inclusivity. The authors then move on to describing the methodology of thought experimentation and its use in analyzing possible deal-breakers for the inclusion of science conspiracists.

Fraud, anonymity, irelevance and unresponsiveness and unfalsifiability are all reviewed as possible deal breakers, before a conclusion in which the authors state that 'the case for exclusion of conspiracists from the democratic arena of science and technology talk is surprisingly difficult', a statement that is followed with further discussion.

The final Research Paper in this issue is The social lab as a method for experimental engagement in participatory research [7] from ilse Marschalek, Vincent Blok, Michael Bernstein, Robert Braun, Joshua Cohen, Margit Hofer, Lisa M. Seebacher, Elisabeth Unterfrauner, Stephanie Daimer, Mika Nieminen, Malene Vinther Christensen and Raj Kumar Thapa.

This paper provides an evidence-based analysis of experiences of 19 implemented Social Labs, describing drivers and barriers of engagement and providing evidence for the impacts of experimental engagement on research and innovation participation in the context of social labs.

The authors open with a description of experiential knowledge and participatory approaches whose aim is to integrate said knowledge into R&I governance, a backdrop for the development of social labs. The research question thus becomes: How can the different steps of the Social Lab process support participatory research for implementing Responsible Research and Innovation?

After a description of social lab methodology and their experience of putting this methodology into practice during the New HoRRIzon Project, results are presented with lots of examples from the various labs.

Challenges and gains are addressed before a short discussion section in which they explain how 'Social Labs can be seen as experimental approach to participation in research and innovation as they offer rooms, iterative loops and reflections throughout the lab process to experiment with ideas and concrete real-life actions'.

The conclusion summarizes what is an already clear methodological process.

Once again the Journal of Responsible Innovation offers the highest quality research papers, all free to download at will [8]. We recommend the issue to all of our readers.


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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Jonathan Hankins
  2. 2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2101211
  3. 3] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2076985
  4. 4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2076986
  5. 5] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2112817
  6. 6] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2116804
  7. 7] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23299460.2022.2119003
  8. 8] https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjri20/9/3?nav=tocList
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Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 9, Issue 2
Articles by:  Jonathan Hankins
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