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Collingridge and the dilemma of control: Towards responsible and accountable innovation



The paper critically reviews the work of David Collingridge in the light of contemporary concerns about responsibility and accountability in innovation, public engagement with science and technology, and the role of scientific expertise in technology policy. Given continued interest in his thoughts on the 'social control of technology', and the 'dilemma of control', this attention is both timely and overdue. The paper illuminates a mismatch between the prevalence of citations to Collingridge's work on the dilemma of control in the literature on responsible innovation, and the depth of engagement with his arguments. By considering neglected aspects of Collingridge's substantive, methodological and philosophical analysis, important implications can be drawn for theory and practice relating to the governance of innovation and co-evolution between technology and society. The paper helps to improve understandings of wider political contexts for responsible innovation, especially in relation to anticipatory, participatory and institutional aspects of governance.
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Research paper
Collingridge and the dilemma of control: Towards responsible and
accountable innovation
Audley Genus
, Andy Stirling
Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 7LB, United Kingdom
Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH, United Kingdom
David Collingridge
Dilemma of control
Governance of innovation
Responsible innovation
The paper critically reviews the work of David Collingridge in the light of contemporary concerns about re-
sponsibility and accountability in innovation, public engagement with science and technology, and the role of
scientic expertise in technology policy. Given continued interest in his thoughts on the social control of
technology, and the dilemma of control, this attention is both timely and overdue. The paper illuminates a
mismatch between the prevalence of citations to Collingridges work on the dilemma of control in the literature
on responsible innovation, and the depth of engagement with his arguments. By considering neglected aspects of
Collingridges substantive, methodological and philosophical analysis, important implications can be drawn for
theory and practice relating to the governance of innovation and co-evolution between technology and society.
The paper helps to improve understandings of wider political contexts for responsible innovation, especially in
relation to anticipatory, participatory and institutional aspects of governance.
1. Introduction
David Collingridge was an important contributor to the eld of
Science and Technology Studies. An active researcher from the late-
1970s to the early-1990s, he developed a distinctive and substantive
line of thinking concerning the social control of technology’–the scope
for conventionally excluded people and interests to shape the forms and
orientations of innovation trajectories in particular sectors.
Collingridges work was concerned with increasing social agency over
technology away from incumbent interests in what have come to be
called innovation systems. It drew on a critique of what he called the
justicationist schoolin decision-making, philosophy, and political
science. Language fashions change, and now more is spoken of the
governanceof science, technology or innovation than of social con-
trol. The notion of control itself can be viewed as being as problematic
as it is helpful to Collingridges underlying aims (Smith and Stirling,
2010; Stirling, 2016a). And a succession of vocabularies that have
burgeoned in this eld largely since Collingridges work (for instance,
around precaution,participationand engagement), are now being
substituted in some quarters by the language of responsible (research
and) innovation (Guston et al., 2014; Owen, 2014; Owen et al., 2012,
2013a,b; Stahl, 2012; Stilgoe et al., 2013, 2014; Von Schomberg, 2011,
2015; see:; Stirling, 2016b).
Responsible innovation is not a new concern. Academic and policy
discussions over responsibilities, risks and controlin the governance of
science and technology go back many years (Donnelley, 1989; Jonas,
1984). Over 70 years ago landmark contributions to understandings of
the history of science and relationships among science and society were
produced by Bernal (1939, 1954) and Haldane (1939). In the 1960s,
signicant contributions emphasised the social responsibility of science
and greater public understanding of science (e.g. Rose and Rose, 1969;
Ziman, 1968). The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science
ran from 1969 to 1991 whilst its US equivalent was active between
1949 and 1976. These societies were concerned with the transparency
and openness of science policy-making as well as the environmental
and health consequences associated with the operation of new tech-
nologies implicated in scientic discoveries and inventions.
There have been longstanding concerns regarding the framing and
promotion of scientic citizenship or citizen science(Irwin, 1995,
2001), which now gure in discussions of responsible research and
innovation (see the special issue of Public Understanding of Science,
edited by Stilgoe et al., 2014). An important development was the
emergence of the ELSI approach towards the end of the 1980s, con-
nected with the ethical, legal and societal implications of, for instance,
the Human Genome project and the proper governance of scientic
research and technological innovation. More recently, there have been
concerns to address the limitations of the ELSI approach and to elicit
more active or responsive public engagement with science and
Received 25 February 2016; Received in revised form 10 February 2017; Accepted 25 September 2017
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (A. Genus), (A. Stirling).
Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
0048-7333/ © 2017 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Please cite this article as: Genus, A., Research Policy (2017),
technology (Rose, 2012).
In the UK, a landmark parliamentary select committee report re-
cognised citizensdistrust of conventionally-institutionalised science,
following a number of high prole technological controversies and
crises which brought into question the accountability and autonomy of
science and the role of society therein (House of Lords, 2000). More-
over, it represented a moment of reection on what it meant for science
and innovation to be conducted responsibly. As subsequent discussion
has shown, this responsibilitymay be understood in relation to what
may be considered proper behaviour or responsiveness’–in dened
contexts (i.e. the ethical dimension of responsible innovation), and in
terms of who is to be held responsiblefor what (role responsibility).
Temporally, consequentialist notions of accountability on the part
of science/scientists and innovation/innovators pertain to whether and
how they should be held to account for the consequences of actions
taken in the past (Grinbaum and Groves, 2013; Stilgoe et al., 2013). But
they also concern more immediate democratic accountabilities for the
contemporary driving motivations of innovation processes (Lee and
Petts, 2013)with respect to impacts which may not have been rea-
sonably foreseeable with any particularity, but which nonetheless arise
from the prioritisation in any given setting of some kinds of general
orientation for innovation rather than others (Wynne, 1993; 2002).
While some analyses of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in-
clude consideration of accountability (Lee and Petts, 2013; Sutclie,
2011), others are explicitly critical of what is portrayed as the trau-
maticand infantilisingeects on processes of innovation (Grinbaum
and Groves, 2013). For the most part, the RRI literature tends to neglect
the quality of accountability. The associated relevance of democracy to
the orientation of technology is also thereby downplayed. Collingridges
emphasis on Popperian qualities of openness and his development of
specic qualities around which to structure accountability oer crucial
but under-realised values for understanding responsible research and
Putting problems of accountability to the fore, this paper seeks to
identify aspects of Collingridges work that have not been especially
well assimilated or further developed in attempts to implement a fra-
mework for responsible governance of research innovation. More
fruitful analysis would draw on Collingridges contribution to engage
more strongly with accountability in debates bearing on key elements
of responsible innovation, such as anticipatory technological decision-
making and inclusive deliberation. Within this discussion,
Collingridges ideas are themselves subject to productive critique,
which may also helpfully inform understanding and practice of RRI.
The paper has the following structure. Section 2outlines develop-
ments in practice and research connected with building and in-
stitutionalising frameworks for responsible innovation. Section 3dis-
cusses how Collingridges work addresses core concerns of RRI,
focusing initially on the Collingridge dilemmaand the corrigibilityof
technology. Section 4critically reviews the contribution of Collin-
gridges work to RRI. Section 5considers revisions and extensions that
may be made to Collingridges contribution which have the potential to
improve understandings of responsible innovation. Section 6concludes
the paper, reecting on implications of the foregoing sections for future
research on and practice of more responsible and accountable in-
2. The practice and a framework of responsible innovation
Multiple labels, approaches and genealogies alluded to in dierent
areas of the responsible research and innovation literature make this
subject dicult to characterise in any denitive way. What is clear is
that an expanding body of analysis and policy practice has built up over
the last decade around notions of responsibilityin this area. This may
be identied with a number of key journal articles such as by Guston
(2006),Guston and Sarewitz (2002),Roco et al. (2011) and Stilgoe
et al. (2013), the book by Owen et al. (2013a), and the launch of the
Journal of Responsible Innovation (Guston et al., 2014). Reading across
multiple denitions Wickson and Carew (2014: 255) identify the fol-
lowing core characteristics of RRI: a focus on addressing signicant
socio-ecological needs and challenges; a commitment to actively en-
gage a range of stakeholders for the purpose of substantively improving
decision-making and mutual learning; a dedicated attempt to anticipate
potential problems; and a willingness among all participants to act and
adapt according to these ideas.
The EU employs RRI as a cross-cutting theme within its Horizon
2020 funding framework (alongside science with and for society).
Horizon 2020 is itself a core element of the agship Innovation Union
programme, which in turn is a central aspect of the EU2020 strategy.
Taken as a whole, EU initiatives and policies tend to characterise in-
novation in an undierentiated way as a self-evidently generally
good thingirrespective of the specic kind of innovation involved or
the alternatives that might thereby be foreclosed (Stirling, 2014). Thus
pro-innovationpolicies are prized as a means to smart growth,
which is in turn seen simply in terms of the gross numbers of jobs in-
volved rather than in terms of net comparisons with numbers and
kinds of jobs that would be created by the same investments by other
means (Stirling, 2010a).
In this view, innovation is whatever happens to emerge from in-
cumbent structures of interest, privilege and power in prevailing in-
novation systems (Stirling, 2008). Justication is provided by reference
to variously direct or indirect engagement with societal challenges,
such as those connected with promoting green and secure energy, food
security, climate action, and smarttransport. But these solutionsare
typically addressed by starting rst with the incumbent innovation
trajectory and simply highlighting those problems that it may promise
to address. Far less attention is given to any analysis starting with the
challenges themselves, in order to decide which innovation trajectories
might be most appropriate (Felt et al., 2008).
Of course, this highly pressurized and expedient approach needs to
be understood in relation to EU concerns about the need to close the
competitiveness gapwith other global economic blocs and countries,
notionally by increasing R & D (Felt et al., 2013). And it is here that it is
relevant that responsible innovationhas also been strongly invoked
(under similar dynamics) in US policy on research and innovation
notably in the governance of nanotechnology. Examples here are the
National Nanotechnology Initiatives strategic plan (NNI, 2011) and the
National Science Foundations Nanotechnology in Society network
(Roco et al., 2011).
Such initiatives raise a key point regarding the emergence of re-
sponsible innovation. This concerns the potential for understandings of
RRI to become unduly attenuated or instrumentalised, resulting in more
attention being devoted to deciding on how to implement an incumbent
innovation pathway, than on choosing which pathway to follow (STEPS
Centre, 2010). To address the shortcomings of these more in-
strumentalised approaches, it is often urged that responsible innovation
move beyond preoccupation with research and development and eco-
nomic benets of individual technologies to address the innovation
process more fully, including social as well as technical and other as-
pects (Blok and Lemmens, 2015; Von Schomberg, 2015).
Whilst orientations and emphases vary, four resulting interacting
dimensions are highlighted as means by which RRI might mitigate such
criticisms. First, RRI aims to be anticipatory in the sense of exploring
possibilities (not making predictions) and analysing intended and po-
tentially unintended impacts that might arise. It aims to be delib-
erative’–‘inclusivelyinviting and listening to wider perspectives from
publics and diverse stakeholders. It prioritises reectivenessregarding
underlying purposes, motivations and potential impacts. And nally,
RRI is argued to be responsive,using this collective process of re-
exivity to both set the direction and inuence the subsequent trajec-
tory and pace of innovation(Owen et al., 2013b: 38; see also Stilgoe
et al., 2013). Among other issues, these processual aspirations of RRI
raise a number of implications for the accountability of research and
A. Genus, A. Stirling Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
First, proponents of RRI are concerned about the limitations of risk-
oriented approaches in providing reliable early warningsof potentially
deleterious eects of new technologies (Harremoës et al., 2000). Here,
they emphasise instead anticipatory approaches involving expert stu-
dies of diverging futures and socio-technical imaginaries. In this view,
anticipation in responsible innovation involves an intermediate posi-
tion between the closing downof governance through the making of
predictions and promises and the full opening upof spaces for more
direct forms of public accountability in substantive citizen participa-
tion. (Stirling, 2008).
The timing of accountabilities is also an important aspect of an-
ticipation, with RRI enjoining eective early instigation of upstream
governance processes. Whether referred to as deliberation (Owen et al.,
2013b) or inclusion (Stilgoe et al., 2013), responsible innovation
prioritises the admission of new voicesto the governance of science
and innovation. A plethora of divergent forms of public engagement
have emerged. Yet these have been criticised for remaining marginal to
governance of science and innovation, with the key commitments un-
dertaken elsewhere, often even further upstreamin innovation pro-
cesses (Conrad et al., 2011). A further risk of erosion in accountability
arises here in tendencies to favour designs for invitedforms of public
engagement (Wynne, 2007) that reinforce (rather than fully inter-
rogate) political closures (Chilvers, 2008).
For its part, reexivity is a key quality in inclusive deliberation.
Here, RRI literatures are informed by Becks (1992; 1999) seminal work
on reexive modernisation, in which he argues that increasing di-
culties in calculating scientic and technological risks will lead scien-
tists themselves to become more reexive heralding what he calls a
second modernity. In this vein, Stilgoe et al. (2013) draw on work by
Wynne (1993, 2002) to argue for institutional reexivityamong fun-
ders, regulators and users of scientic research concerning the as-
sumptions and practices implicated in science and innovation and their
governance. But in order to contribute to the opening upof account-
abilities, reexivity must be more than a private process of self-ques-
tioning regarding values and interests in science and innovation. Rather
than a quality located in individual social actors, reexivity needs to be
recognised as a plural and distributed social capability (Stirling,
2016a). In this sense, reexivity is a public practice, capacities for
which may be enabled by application of standards and codes of conduct
(Voss et al., 2006).
In all these ways and more, RRI involves mutual accommodation
and adjustment in the needs, interests and values of contending sta-
keholders. In particular, the quality of responsiveness’–for instance
according to Owen et al. (2013b: 38) involves an open processof
adaptive learning. In such ways, interwoven principles of anticipatory
governance and inclusive deliberation help confer mutual responsive-
ness on the part of participating interests and enjoin reexivity over
the positions and values that they themselves and others hold. But
again, there tends to be relatively little explicit, direct, or substantive
provision for addressing power dynamics in these processes of adap-
tation, learning and responsiveness. It is these kinds of power dynamic
that are addressed in wider notions of political accountability.
With these dimensions of RRI in mind, the following section outlines
how Collingridges work has been and could be employed in the ela-
boration of RRI. In particular, it considers how his ideas on the dilemma
of control and corrigibility of decisions about technology might address
issues of accountability referred to above.
3. Collingridges contribution to RRI
When RRI literatures draw on Collingridge, the most explicitly in-
voked theme is the dilemma of control(or Collingridge dilemma)
(Asante et al., 2014: 1314;Fonseca and Pereira, 2013: 51;2014: 17;
Kiran, 2012: 220;Owen, 2014;Owen et al., 2013b: 34;Stilgoe et al.,
2013: 1569;Lee and Petts, 2013: 145;Rose, 2012: 9;Van den Hoven,
2013;Van den Hoven, 2013: 80). The dilemma runs thus: attempting to
control a technology is dicultbecause during its early stages, when
it can be controlled, not enough can be known about its harmful social
consequences to warrant controlling its development; but by the time
these consequences are apparent, control has become costly and slow
(Collingridge, 1980: 19). This leads to the importance of a second
theme in more detailed accounts, concerning the corrigibility of in-
novation trajectories (see: Blok, 2014; Owen et al., 2013b; Lee and
Petts, 2013). And alongside these explicit references to his work, Col-
lingridges thinking also has implicit inuence on RRI for instance in
the recognition of the signicance of corrigibility in the form of re-
sponsiveness.Stilgoe et al. (2013: 1572) describe this as the capacity
to change shape or direction in response to stakeholder and public
values and changing circumstances.
In general Collingridges work is used as fundamental grounding for
framing: (a) the problem agenda of RRI; and (b) particular strategies for
steering technology-society more eectively. The dilemma of control
has been invoked in a general sense to underpin discussions of how to
govern uncertain or potentially undesirable innovations in contexts
where knowledge is unavailable or contested (Asante et al., 2014). In
this sense, RRI emerges as a direct response to the Collingridge di-
lemma, in which respect a number of other approaches for governing
emerging technologies have been found wanting (Rose, 2012). In es-
sence, the argument is that the Collingridge dilemma can be overcome
when responsibility is embedded in emerging technologies in the form
of enhanced reexivity among researchers alongside wider provision
for upstreamengagement (Fonseca and Pereira, 2013, 2014).
Reference to Collingridge is especially prominent where RRI seeks
to address the rst hornof the Collingridge dilemma (concerning the
dearth of necessary early information about technological implica-
tions). Eschewing simplistic instrumental approaches, attention focuses
on exposing developments to a range of mid-stream, multidisciplinary
perspectivesof kinds that were undeveloped when Collingridge rst
developed his dilemma(Kiran, 2012). Other particular dimensions of
RRI that involve elaboration of core ideas from Collingridge, include
recognition for the importance of continuing dialogue processes as a
means to enhance the corrigibility of decisions. In this regard, dialo-
gical responsivenessinvolves destruction and reconstituting of the
identities of those participating in deliberations about scientic re-
search and innovation (Blok, 2014).
Alongside these well-recognised themes, other aspects of
Collingridges work are under-acknowledged in RRI, and oer sig-
nicant potential for useful inuence. For instance, Collingridges ap-
proach to seeking social control over technology is often interpreted
simply to involve monitoring and continual search for error with re-
mediation best facilitated by ensuring that those pathways that are
pursued are as corrigible as possible. However, this is only part of the
story. Other themes in Collingridges work that are undervalued in the
RRI literature involve other strategies than corrigibility and address the
afore-mentioned dimensions of RRI. For instance, in relation to antici-
patory technological decision-making Collingridge describes a series of
equivalentways of overcoming obstacles to the control of technology,
including: keeping options open; increasing the insensitivity of perfor-
mance of technology to error; escaping the hedging circle; enhancing
controllability; managing entrenchment; reducing dogmatism of ex-
perts; and minimising the diseconomies of scale.
Collingridge (1980) argues that keeping future options open facil-
itates the social control of technology by enhancing the exibility of
decisions. Having a range of technical options available avoids reliance
on any one technology. For Collingridge, the choice of which nascent
innovation pathways to pursue (or not) is a matter of societal and
technological choice, implicated with competing visions of the pur-
poses, benets and limitations of technology and more or less eective
processes for decision-making. In relation to the rst horn of his di-
lemma, the knowledge required to avoid big mistakesmay be
knowledge pertaining to a class of similar decisions about technology,
A. Genus, A. Stirling Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
albeit that operational knowledge about the technology in question
may not yet be available. In Nordmanns (2014) terms, RRI should
emphasise the search for alternative scenarios and technological op-
tions, rather than comprehensive knowledge of the future. This in-
creases freedom of manoeuvre, opening up a wider range of possible
future actions. In this way, a system composed of many small units of
operation or production presents far wider options than dependence on
a few very large units which rely on highly specialised and capital in-
tensive infrastructure. The trade-ois between exibility of decisions
on one hand and the loss of the economies of scale from the more in-
exible technology on the other. Public accountability may also be
more practicable in cases when technology is insensitive to error, that is
when the time taken to discover and remedy a mistakendecision is
short and the costs of the mistake compared with those of following the
correctoption make little dierence to the nal pay-o
(Collingridge, 1980: 40).
A particular problem for anticipatory decisionmaking is manifest
in what Collingridge (1980: chapter 5) calls the hedging circle. This
refers to a process in which liberal just-in-caseassumptions (e.g. in the
energy sector about future energy demand growth and GDP) interlock
with existing low varietysupply technology to create a vicious circle in
which supply is increased in the expectation of growing demand, and
demand growth materialises as consumers adjust to supply increases.
Decision-makers understand the cost of error in terms of failure to
supply (energy) according to expected demand as generously fore-
casted. In this way, it appears as if expansion of the prevailing low-
variety system (in this case based on centralised generation of non-re-
newable electricity), has a lower cost of error, than investment in a
more decentralised supply system or energy eciency. Subsequent
thinking and experience has illuminated this fallacy (GEA, 2012).
Here, Collingridge distinguishes between controllabilityand cor-
rigibilityin that the former relates to the ecacy, cost and timeliness
with which wider social agency can be asserted over the orientation of a
technological trajectory, and not just to the ease with which specic
errors may be corrected. Decisions that are easily controlled will have
what Collingridge calls low control cost, which he denes as the costs
of applying a remedy to a mistaken decision (Collingridge, 1980: 33).
Where such costs are unknown in advance, then options with low xed
costs are preferable. If these decisions are mistaken then the losses of
sunk costs associated with highly capital intensive options may be kept
Assuring responsiveness to changed circumstances or values is dif-
cult in situations where technologies are entrenched(Collingridge,
1979;1980: chapter 3;1983; c.f. Arthur, 1989 for the related notion of
technology lock inreferred to in RRI literature). Entrenchment may be
thought of in terms of the second hornof the Collingridge dilemma,
extending beyond problems of information regarding the future per-
formance of technology to challenges of insucient agency a devel-
oped technology is more clear in its implications but more entrenched
in the face of eorts to reshape it (Owen et al., 2012, 2013b), though
continued monitoring may be possible. In addition to entrenchment,
however, Collingridge identies further impediments to responsiveness,
which tend not to be considered in RRI literatures.
First, responsiveness may become dicult due to competition
(which may for Collingridge be between rms, nation-states or regional
blocs). This is due to the ways in which competition can serve to restrict
the number of options while dulling the reexivity, or critical ability, of
inuential stakeholders. This occurs, for example, when the technology
in question becomes so intrinsically embedded in imaginations of the
future that competition is based entirely around optimising this tra-
jectory, rather than exploring alternatives.
Secondly, responsiveness is impaired by dogmatism, which serves to
reduce societal reexivity and inclusive deliberation. This involves the
many ways in which incumbent interests that are associated with a
particular entrenched technology can avoid criticism of their favoured
commitments. Dogmatism ourishes in the absence of transparent
processes of scrutiny or where such monitoring is conducted too lightly
or by groups unable to exercise independent views of the technology
concerned (Collingridge, 1980: chapter 9). Scientic experts and the
use of scientic expertise are central to dogmatism. Collingridge argues
that scientic experts distort the proper taskof technology which is
supposed to be to meet societal needs and fail to address more human
aspects of technology. Instead, they and their work tend to be unduly
optimistic, overly technical and serve the narrow needs of large orga-
nisations and government, by and for which their expertise is com-
missioned (Collingridge, 1992: 180182).
Thirdly, responsiveness is inhibited by diseconomies of scale.
Collingridge (1980, 1992) identied a number of indicators of scale,
and applied these to a variety of case studies, including system-built
high-rise buildings, nuclear power, large irrigation schemes in devel-
oping countries, and the US space shuttle. The indicators thereby im-
plicated include long lead time, large unit size, capital intensity and
dependence on specialised infrastructure. Collingridge shows how these
characteristics of large inexible technologies may bring economies of
scale once they are deployed but impose severe diseconomies of scale in
terms of response time and control costs on society if decisions are
subsequently found to be mistaken.
In all these ways, more fulsome institutionalisation of Collingridges
ideas to RRI might additionally emphasise and combine attention to: (a)
exible, incremental decisions, which are more likely to be taken by (b)
incremental decision-making processes accountable to stakeholders
who are usually left out of such mechanisms (c.f. Lindblom, 1959,
1990); and (c) increased criticism (and relaxed reliance on) the
worldviews of the kinds of professional experts that tend to be most
implicated in RRI again a key focus of accountabilityas distinct from
responsibility(c.f. Lindblom, 1990). But Collingridges work is of
course also susceptible to critique not least in relation to other
emerging insights in RRI. In particular, this discussion relates to a series
of analyses that have emerged since Collingridge ceased active re-
search, including research on: constructive technology assessment and
discourse; the dynamics of expectations; and socio-technical scenarios
and imaginaries. It is to this that attention will now turn.
4. A critique of Collingridges work in relation to RRI
Over the last three decades, Collingridges own approach has been
subject to much useful criticism. Sometimes despite its age
prompting fresh research questions even now, this also oers signicant
insights for developing RRI agendas. For instance, some critics of
Collingridge have read his work as an externalistview, unduly se-
parating of relations between technologyand society(e.g. Johnston,
1984; Kiran 2012). Collingridges (1985: 380) (somewhat defensive)
response is that (to him) the story of technologyobviously involves
its social and institutional aspects as well. But it is important here to
understand connections between the content of inexible technologies
and the closed processes and interactions (i.e. between policy-makers
and large rms) through which they are promoted. In Kirans (2012)
view RRI approaches should not seek to appropriatethis position. In
other words, governing technologies responsibly requires a more
nuanced approach to the relatively simple distinction between up-
stream or downstream design strategiesimplied in the Collingridge
dilemma. Instead contemporary mid-streammultidisciplinary per-
spectives recognise the mutual interdependence of the technicaland
the social, and oer the potential to allow participants to work out
questions of function and meaning in the fray of sociotechnical devel-
A second kind of criticism emanates from contributions to RRI lit-
erature which emphasise (and problematise) the responsiveness of ac-
tors to each other (e.g. Blok, 2014; De Bakker et al., 2014; Lövbrand
et al., 2011; Sykes and Macnaghten, 2013; Van Oudheusden, 2014).
These juxtapose ideals of deliberative democracy working towards the
common goodwith corresponding critiques from the eld of science
A. Genus, A. Stirling Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
and technology studies (STS) which stress the plurality of knowledges
and assumptions which can inform collective action(Lövbrand et al.,
2011). Here however, there is actually a strong consistency with Col-
lingridges position on the role of scientic expertise in technological
controversies, which emphasises how scientic experts called upon to
present knowledge for opposing sides in technical controversies, will
obviously disagree over interpretations and implications (Collingridge,
1980; Collingridge and Reeve, 1986). Yet Collingridge does envisage
that mutual rapprochement of experts may be secured if appeals are
successful to background values(Collingridge, 1980: chapter 12). For
its part, STS recognises that these values themselves are typically con-
testable (Felt et al., 2008, 2013).
Here again, however, Collingridge (1992: 186) does nonetheless
still converge with pluralist STS, in that his notion of associated trial
and error learning requires mutual co-ordination between disparate
interest groups sharing power, each having a veto. It is from this (in
STS terms) more reexive process, that more exible sociotechnical
congurations may be selected. These may be far from perfect, but they
may be expected to better serve the people aected by them as well as
proving better adapted to realities of human ignorance about the future.
In any case, this kind of appeal to shared or background valuescan
also to be found in the STS-informed RRI literature for instance in von
Schombergs description of the EU approach to RRI (Von Schomberg,
2013). The extent and depth in which underlying social values must be
dierentiated, or may be assumed to be shared, could usefully be
problematized and subject to further scrutiny in future RRI research.
Two further key points here arise in the extent to which processes of
technology development embody or enable democratic inuence of
those who stand to be aected. Relating to the accountability issues
mentioned above, these concern the requisite diversity of stakeholders
involved in alignmentprocesses, as well as the capacities of these
processes for reection and responsiveness to plural values and inter-
ests. Relevant here is Collingridges concern that debates about tech-
nologies be seen as continuing processes, rather than one-oexercises.
Accordingly, his work highlights the need to conceive of account-
abilities not consequentially in relation to postulated future outcomes,
but rather pragmatically in terms of more immediately apprehensible
contemporary qualities of innovation processes themselves: like inclu-
sion, openness, incrementalism, exibility and reversibility.
Also, in Collingridges terms, the focus should not only be on
emerging technologies but also on monitoring those which have be-
come entrenched. Recognising that judgements regarding the exibility
or robustness of technologies are always provisional, Collingridge ar-
gues that scrutiny should persist for as long as it is possible for debate to
continue. However, he does not say how the category of aected
parties is to be determined in practice ex ante. Nor does he oer gui-
dance about how democratic governance should be practised so as to
admit such potential participants, let alone how to ensure in the pre-
sence of encompassing power gradients, that they exert inuence over
decisions. Instead, Collingridge simply analyses cases where such actors
are missing' (Winner, 1993) and cautions about potentially innite
regress in criticism in (or of) science. Subsequent contributions, in-
cluding contemporary approaches to RRI, still struggle to address these
issues eectively. Here in particular, there seems much further scope
for further critical research and action.
One area where exactly these issues where this challenge was
especially addressed is Constructive Technology Assessment (CTA).
Also in danger of neglect in subsequent RRI research and especially in
parallel elds like transition management (Meadowcroft, 2009; Shove
and Walker, 2007; Smith and Stirling, 2010)CTA focuses directly on
the open and inherently political nature of alignment processes.
Focussing on the dynamics of negotiating between promotion and
control, a range of strategies emerge on the part of regulators, mar-
keting or environmental departments in rms and their various prota-
gonists in wider political debate (Rip and te Kulve, 2008; Schot, 1992;
Schot and Rip, 1997; c.f. Genus, 2006; Genus and Coles, 2005). In
Jasano's work on sociotechnical imaginaries, as well, visions and un-
derstandings on the part of non-specialists are aorded equal attention
and signicance to expert perspectives, with systematic contrasts ob-
served between circumstances in contrasting national settings (Jasano
and Kim, 2009). Here, RRI shares in common with many other sub-
sequent academic contributions to technology governance including
transition management and CTA a tendency to be most preoccupied
with interactions between social scientists, scientists, research funders,
policy makers and entrepreneurial or innovating rms. They have been
less directly concerned with relations (like accountability) extending to
NGOs and citizens more widely.
For example Owen et al. (2013b: 46) refer to the important role of
universities, institutes, and research funderswho enjoy co-responsi-
bilityfor dening responsible innovation and to institutionally embed
the RRI framework they advocate. In CTA reference is made to the
relevant institutions and networks that are directly involved [in tech-
nology development], but also to third partieswho can provide or
withhold credibility and legitimation (for example insurance compa-
nies, NGOs and critical or activist groups(Rip and te Kulve, 2008).
Thus citizen perspectives and democratic control of technology can
appear secondary (even tertiary) considerations. This is despite de-
clared aspirations and recognition that the institutionalising of new
technologies is an inherently social process in the widest sense, im-
plicating broad societal and environmental concerns and unintended
eects. Again, Jasanos (2003) discussion of technologies of humility
oers some especially salient principles for upstreamcitizen engage-
ment, of kinds that remain to be institutionalised in any eective way in
RRI. Indeed, tendencies discussed here in some RRI practices and
structures towards relatively instrumental orientation, narrow scope
and circumscribed participation, mean these may sometimes more ac-
curately be referred to in Jasanos terms as technologies of hubris.
For his part, however, Collingridge may in these terms also be cri-
ticised for lack of attention to wider patterns of institutional organisa-
tion and practice around technological decision-making. Albeit still
under-developed, this is an important area of emerging attention in
contemporary work in RRI (Stilgoe et al., 2013). Seen, after Giddens, as
recursive rules and resources through which social practices are made
and reproduced (Giddens, 1984: 24), institutions are by denitionthe
most enduring features of social life in modern societies. They are thus
crucial to the dynamics of emerging sociotechnical congurations.
This said, though he does not explicitly use the term, it is clear that
Collingridge is strongly aware of institutional dynamics. For example,
Collingridge (1982: preface) refers to how his approach can enable
more eective criticism of those features of existing social institutions
that give rise to inexible technologies. It could be argued, then, that
Collingridges views have implications for the formal or regulative in-
stitutional arrangements which could (or should, in his view) be
adopted to promote the responsible governance of innovation. These
involve the state avoiding gold plating favoured technologies through
nancial subsidies or taxation allowances. They also highlight the
limitations of a picking winnersapproach to technology and innova-
tion policy, with incrementalism more closely tting a policy of gen-
erating and preserving alternatives. Thus, to adapt Collingridges ap-
proach, analysis of relevant policies should seek to investigate not just
the governmental institutional arrangements, but also wider societal
and cultural contexts, which might bear on the shaping of more open
forms of research or more exible congurations for innovation capable
of being implemented by smaller and more diverse kinds of organisa-
tions (Voss and Freeman, 2015).
In relation to institutionalised practices for monitoring decisions
about technology, Collingridge notes that conventional administrative
rulesserve to impede discovery of expert bias due to a series of factors.
First, there is unequal funding to expertise aligned with dierent in-
terests, making expertise unfair both in its availability and orientation.
Second, there is the tendency to domination of research elds and
agendas by a few experts the so-called Kehoeproblem. This refers to
A. Genus, A. Stirling Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
the leading scientic authority on environmental lead in the 1930s,
whose ndings came to determine an erroneous threshold limit for safe
exposure to lead. Third, there are bureaucratic rules which impose se-
crecy or protect key factsfrom criticism as repeatedly documented
in public inquiries (Millstone and van Zwanenberg, 2005; Wynne,
These existing institutional arrangements may be contrasted with
another model of the role of scientic experts, which can accommodate
the fact that experts can be expected to disagree(1980: 191; see also
Collingridge and Reeve, 1986). This is also one in which it is recognised
that there is nothing wrongin scientists being advocatesfor parti-
cular perspectives or policies. As explored further by Pielke (2007),
however, this holds only for as long as scientic practices and norms are
adhered to in a broader sense as well as wider values of reasoned
deliberation (Dryzek, 2006).
Collingridges work is informed by the contribution of Charles
Lindblom on the prevalence and reduction of professional impairment
(Lindblom, 1990). A contemporary development of such thinking di-
rects attention to normativeinstitutional arrangements which govern
the training of scientists and social scientists for example, in relation
to public engagement and ethics, and in terms of their capacity for self-
criticism, reection and proactive accountability. But what does not
feature so directly in Collingridges thinking, are institutionalised rules
implicated with understandings, beliefs and expectations concerning
participation of publics per se. This includes such rules concerning the
responsibilities of (and requirements for) citizens to play active roles in
technology development, to help guard against unfair or unwise in-
novations. But again, this gap in Collingridges thinking also seems to
persist equally in much contemporary academic thought.
The following section reects on how RRI might usefully engage
more deeply with Collingridges ideas and the implications of doing so
for developing both understanding and practice of RRI. This discussion
also benets from appreciation for how Collingridges thinking is in-
formed by Charles Lindbloms work on political incrementalism and the
associated Popperianfallibilist approach to decision-making under
conditions of uncertainty or ignorance. The discussion oers for RRI a
sceptical view of anticipatory decision-making. It also oers insights
into the constituting of reexivity and responsiveness and to some ex-
tent inclusive deliberation of kinds that are emergent in Collingridges
work but not referenced within RRI literatures, even amongst those
contributions which cite him.
5. Building RRI: revisiting Collingridge?
Collingridges approach emphasises active processes of learning
from a particular class of past decisions in order to inform future de-
cision-making about technology development, scientic research and
innovation. This contrasts with the more hubristic techno-scientic
approaches to futureswhich form one branch of the technology as-
sessment literature (Selin, 2014). Collingridge is concerned pragmati-
cally with the qualities of emerging innovations, rather than con-
sequentially with their outcomes. This should not be confused with
questions about the availability or not of knowledge regarding a focal,
emerging technology of a kind that might otherwise be the central
framing adopted in current approaches to responsible innovation.
Whereas his contributions are often thought of as being preoccupied
with lock-in and the closing down of governance processes, it is the
incrementalist and Popperian underpinning of Collingridges thinking
that most emphasise the need for open processes (c.f. Stirling, 2008).
These themes are developed in the paragraphs below.
5.1. Incrementalism
Some contributions to RRI literature which refer to Collingridges
work, neglect to recognise its immersion in a wider pool of thinking
around incremental policy, strategy and decision-making. The writings
of Charles Lindblom, for instance, are a particularly strong inuence on
Collingridges thinking about what he called the management of scale
and exible decision-making about technology.
For Lindblom (1959) incrementalism involves two aspects: a) an
emphasis on relatively small changes from some pre-existing state of
aairs (which may nonetheless be large in their cumulative eects); and
b) the participation of likely-aected partisanswhose continual
proactive mutual adjustmentshelp to prevent the more egregious
kinds of mistake associated with centralised planning. Later, Lindblom
(1990) emphasised the role and need for wider citizen engagements,
allowing the probing of past and prospective decisions. So too, in
Collingridges (1980) view, the post-hoc monitoring of past technolo-
gical decisions should be encouraged in the form of public debate, with
recognition that this may periodically entail the reversal of deep com-
mitments. In ways that chime with Van de Poels (2000) emphasis on
the need to include outsidersand Winners (1993) concern with
missing actors, both Lindblom and Collingridge see this in terms of
potentially empowering and involving those who are often left out of
technological decision-making. To the extent that some of the more
instrumental applications of RRI practice are seen (as discussed above)
in conservative quarters as substitutes for waves of policy enthusiasm
for public engagement, this work of Collingridges serves as a reminder
that wider inclusion and empowerment are central to and constitutive
of responsibility.
The resulting issues extend very widely. Collingridge identied as
one of the most pressing problems of our time, the question of: can we
control our [sic] technology?(Collingridge, 1980: preface). In sum-
marising his overall response, Collingridge notes that what is required
extends well beyond specic bolt-on methods, tools and practices, to
encompass the entire normal machinery of politics(1983: preface). For
him, it is this normal decision-makingthat needs to be much more
strongly conditioned by incrementalism. Thus he states that weought
to avoid those decisions that cant be taken incrementally a clear,
normative commitment with extensive repercussions not just for policy
but for the politics of technology more widely. It is in this way that
Collingridge seeks to escape the excessively deterministic connotations
of control(Collingridge, 1983). And it is in these senses that he oers
what are arguably some of his most salient messages for RRI.
5.2. Ignorance and fallibility
Reaching back especially to the work of Popper (1979), Collin-
gridges incremental approach to the social control of technology is
based on the philosophy of fallibilism. Here, Collingridge considers
error to be an unavoidable part of being human. He contrasts his em-
phasis on human fallibility, with then (and still) prevailing conditions
under which incumbent governance cultures aspire and claim sy-
noptically rational decision making. With Bayesian probabilistic
methods for risk-based decision-making even more prominent today
than they were in Collingridges time, such attitudes are also ex-
emplied in the current emphasis on sound scienceand evidence
based decision-making’–as if these permitted single self-evidently
denitive prescriptions (Stirling, 2010b).
This continuing dominant traditionrests on what Collingridge re-
fers to as the justicationist model, in which only those decisions which
can be fully justied are seen as rational. As a result, strong pressures
are formed to suppress recognition for uncertainties, ambiguities and
irreducible ignorance. In Bayesianand kindred approaches critiqued
by Collingridge, these kinds of indeterminacy and intractability are
instead treated with aggregated probabilities. It is central to
Collingridges insights that these kinds of reductive aggregativetools
are deeply misleading. Yet many parts of the responsible innovation
literature that otherwise draw on his work, are not so clear concerning
these kinds of problems with what continue to be dominant methods
(Martin, 2013; Walport, 2014).
There is a key parallel here between the Popperian process in which
A. Genus, A. Stirling Research Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
scientic progress rests on eective falsication of conjectures, and
ways in which wider capacities for reasoned societal interrogation can
expose aws in technology development and operation. It is arguably
here that the importance of accountability becomes most signicant
as an element of responsibility relating not to anticipated consequences,
but to the appropriate prioritisation of Collingridge qualitiesin
emerging technologies themselves. It is in qualities of inclusion, open-
ness, incrementalism, exibility and reversibility that the parallels are
strongest between Popper and Collingridge. Conditions favouring ro-
bust knowledge and robust technology are not so dierent. Again, the
implications for RRI are quite direct.
Taken together, there arise in the foregoing discussions a number of
searching questions with quite practical implications: 1). What are the
dierent meanings and forms of RRI and how do these relate to con-
crete qualities identied by Collingridge? 2). To what extent is RRI
becoming institutionally embedded as a means to assert, or alter-
natively to challenge, processes of justication? 3). What visions and
styles of scientic expertise and discourse are most promoted by RRI
openly contending or apparently harmonious? 4) What are the relations
between public participation and stakeholder engagement with RRI as
a source of challenge and substantive orientation, or a resource for
securing legitimacy? 5) What are the implications of practices and
structures of RRI for wider qualities of democratic accountability do
these tend to be emphasised and reinforced, or suppressed and sub-
6. Conclusion
This paper seeks to make a three-fold contribution. First it oers a
relatively full and systematic critical analysis of the work of David
Collingridge which is acknowledged to have exercised an important
inuence on the currently burgeoning eld of responsible (research
and) innovation (RRI), but of which some of the wider and deeper
implications have arguably been neglected. Second, the paper has ex-
plored some specic implications of this relative neglect, for some
central themes in RRI for instance arising in the importance of
pragmatic incrementalism rather than consequentialist justication.
The third contribution has been to analyse some signicant limitations
in Collingridges approach as illuminated in the light of subsequent
developments. This also raises practical issues for RRI, particularly with
regard to the strengthening of Collingridge qualities’–including in-
clusion, openness, diversity, incrementalism, exibility and reversi-
Of course, some problems are presented for aspects of Collingridges
analysis by the advent of contemporary grand challengesfor innova-
tion policy, such as climate change and social justice. In particular,
serious questions appear to be raised for his vision of incrementalism,
by imperatives to achieve urgent and broad-scale transformations.
These may partly be alleviated by pointing to the potentially radical
cumulative eects of incrementalism in achieving occasionally trans-
formative emergent cultural murmurations(Stirling, 2016a). But the
tension still remains.
Likewise, there are also criticisms that Collingridge presents a de-
cisionistic and machinery viewof technology in society, more con-
sistent with risk regulationthan the innovation governanceof RRI
approaches. This links to the paradoxically deterministic connotations
of the controlmetaphor that Collingridge uses to communicate his
analysis. Again, Collingridges choice of metaphor is of its time. His
prescriptions of inclusion, openness, diversity, incrementalism, ex-
ibility and reversibility might all now be better expressed in terms of
qualities other than control’–including care, solidarity, mutualism,
non-consequentialist notions of accountability and responsibility itself.
Nonetheless, whilst the questions raised for RRI still stand, these
limitations in Collingridges approach do detract from its contemporary
value. And, though he highlights the problem well, Collingridges work
also fails eectively to resolve how to achieve the necessary kinds of
wider and deeper democratic deliberation, including by vulnerable
marginalised communities who are repeatedly deeply aected by in-
cumbent patterns of decision-making, but who remain perennially
missing actors(Winner, 1993). It is in this area that work in sub-
sequent decades around modalities for participatory deliberation,
marginalised interests and responsiveness to uninvitedcollective ac-
tion arguably have most to oer (Wynne, 2007).
This reinforces a point that is already quite well appreciated in
particular areas of RRI but which may fruitfully be restated in terms of
three implications of the paper for future RRI research and practice and
the directions that these should take. First there is a need to develop
and invigorate more concrete and assertive frameworks for enabling
practice of critical citizen engagement and participatory deliberation
(see Macnaghten and Chilvers, 2014 for a recent example). Attention to
the full scope of Collingridges analysis would fortify such moves. But it
would also have the eect of raising particular questions and pointers.
Secondly, and in relation to the previous point, RRI needs to have
due regard to Collingridgesemphasis on fallibility and the ever-present
intractabilities of ignorance. In terms of the direction of ensuing RRI
research and practice this highlights the value of processes and dis-
courses that illuminate, rather than suppress, contention among spe-
cialists and wider societal interests. Particular challenges are raised by
this for the search for right impactsin RRI (Von Schomberg, 2013).
Here, an implication of the paper is that responsibility lies not in en-
gineering consensus, but in exploring dissensus (Genus, 2006). And it is
in this regard that the Collingridge qualities’–around inclusion,
openness, diversity, incrementalism, exibility and reversibility oer
concrete constituting (albeit sometimes contending) axes meriting fur-
ther deliberation in RRI.
Thirdly, to the extent that RRI approaches can fully embrace
Collingridges contributions, they will need to grapple not only with
contending qualities and principles for rationalistic decision making but
also with the fundamental realities (foundational for Collingridge) that
the governance of research and innovation are fundamentally about
muddling throughin the presence of steep power gradients and
strongly asserted interests. In this sense, it is a core feature of respon-
sibility that it is often better engaged with as a struggle against in-
cumbent power, than as an instrumental facilitation (Stirling, 2016a).
Thus understood, one of the most important properties of responsibility
lies in the reinforcing rather than the attenuation of accountabilities.
In the end, the kinds of humility and pluralism urged by Collingridge in
the face of ignorance and contending interests, underscore the point
that the most responsible way to govern innovation is by democracy
itself. The institutions and practices of RRI are arguably only pro-
gressive insofar as they helps to strengthen, rather than weaken, this
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... Lack of adequate information on both sides is one reason for the scarcity of adequate interventions, as impacts are hard to predict during the early stages of technology development (Collingridge, 1980;Genus and Stirling, 2018). However, how much regulators know about technology, its effects, or the regulatory environment is critical for ensuring emerging developments that comply with existing norms. ...
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From exoskeletons to lightweight robotic suits, wearable robots are changing dynamically and rapidly, challenging the timeliness of laws and regulatory standards that were not prepared for robots that would help wheelchair users walk again. In this context, equipping regulators with technical knowledge on technologies could solve information asymmetries among developers and policymakers and avoid the problem of regulatory disconnection. This article introduces pushing robot development for lawmaking (PROPELLING), an financial support to third parties from the Horizon 2020 EUROBENCH project that explores how robot testing facilities could generate policy-relevant knowledge and support optimized regulations for robot technologies. With ISO 13482:2014 as a case study, PROPELLING investigates how robot testbeds could be used as data generators to improve the regulation for lower-limb exoskeletons. Specifically, the article discusses how robot testbeds could help regulators tackle hazards like fear of falling, instability in collisions, or define the safe scenarios for avoiding any adverse consequences generated by abrupt protective stops. The article’s central point is that testbeds offer a promising setting to bring policymakers closer to research and development to make policies more attuned to societal needs. In this way, these approximations can be harnessed to unravel an optimal regulatory framework for emerging technologies, such as robots and artificial intelligence, based on science and evidence.
... Once the impacts manifest themselves through the gradual introduction of the technology, its malleability is drastically reduced since it is difficult (if not impossible) to change retrospectively anything about the technology (Collingridge, 1980). This interrelation between uncertain futures and technological development can be found throughout the ethics of technology and geoengineering in the form of the Collingridge Dilemma, lock-in or path-dependency (Cairns, 2014;Genus and Stirling, 2018). ...
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This article brings a new perspective to the ethical debate on geoengineering through stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), incorporating the emerging techno-moral change scholarship into the discussion surrounding sustainability. The techno-moral change approach can help us understand different ways in which technology might shape society. First, it helps highlight how values and norms are interrelated. Second, it shows that techno-moral change can happen even if the technology is in no way realized. Through the introduction of two techno-moral vignettes, two diametrically opposed ways in which SAI forces us to rethink sustainability and our relationship with nature are suggested. SAI could lead to a situation of entrenchment, wherein sustainability as a norm is undermined, or transformation where the necessity of acting according to sustainability is highlighted.
... The public may not have the expertise of scientists, and risk management estimates hazards by criteria that include the perception of risk. Decision making is rarely based on scientific risk assessment only, which suggests that the linear model of socio-technical integration is unsuitable for solving complex issues because it does not engage with taking pre-emptive measures to manage risks associated with new technologies and mitigate undesirable societal implications of innovation (Genus and Stirling, 2018). It becomes apparent that genome editing as a solution to food security would be scaled-up more successfully if it was mandated under decision making that integrates social perspective with technical feasibility. ...
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The need to meet the food demands of the world's growing population is the main challenge to global agricultural policy and economy. Issues in food security require innovative solutions. Modern biotechnology has a significant potential to contribute to food security, wealth, and sustainable development. Genetic engineering offers tools to improve nutrition, increase yield, and enhance crop resilience. New techniques of genome editing provide ample means to overcome limitations inherent in conventional plant breeding, but their industrial applicability depends on regulatory environment, decision making, and public perception. An alignment of goals between science and policy can help realise the potential of modern biotechnology to contribute to food security, wealth, and sustainable development.
... 2 | THEORETICAL FOUNDATION 2.1 | Cultural variances affecting RI practices in Asian-Pacific BMs Nowadays, business and social organizations must face the challenges of sustainable development by collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to conduct innovation aligned to with the "norms of doing good and avoiding harms." In such a scenario, RI, has become a cutting-edge research topic intensively discussed among global scholars, particularly after the Ebola and the COVID-19 outbreaks (Arslan & Tarakci, 2020;Arthur & Owen, 2019;Bruynseels, 2020;Genus & Stirling, 2018;Steur et al., 2020;Voegtlin & Scherer, 2017;Waldron et al., 2020). ...
Recognizing the key role of innovation in ensuring the definition of managerial and organizational model able to support companies in facing the multiple challenges of sustainable development, the paper focuses on the domain of Responsible innovation (RI) with the aim to depict the role of cross‐cultural legitimacy for RI in Asian‐Pacific business models. Adopting the interpretative lens provided by Dialectical Systems View, the Yin‐Yang dichotomy is discussed for depicting the relationships among focal firms and stakeholders within in Asian‐Pacific cross‐cultural models. Hypotheses are tested via constructed stepwise regression models using secondary data related to a sample of large Chinese MNEs listed in the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges over the period from 2009 to 2018. The research shows the multiple influences that cultural legitimacy has in influencing RI and firm performance in the Asian‐Pacific cross‐cultural business models. Thanks to the study, the current debate about the role of innovation in supporting the definition of sustainable‐based business models is enriched through the definition of cross‐cultural legitimacy as key driver for RI in Asian‐Pacific business models. Thanks to the reflections herein, RI is definitely approached as a holistic domain whose understanding requires to researchers and practioners to overcome traditional business “boundaries.”
... As transition efforts often involve decision-making through emerging (public-private) networks where not all voices are equally represented and public accountabilities of innovations are not always warranted (cf. Genus and Stirling, 2018), the democratic legitimacy of (large-scale, publicly funded) interventions deserves attention (Hendriks, 2009;De Geus et al., 2022). ...
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In this paper, we explore the relation between democracy and justice in governing agri-food transitions. We argue that a deeper understanding of democracy is needed to foster just transitions. First, we present a multi-dimensional understanding of justice in transitions and relate it to scholarship on democratizing transitions. Then, we argue that three paradigm shifts are required to overcome current unsustainable dynamics: (1) from expert toward pluralist understandings of knowledge; (2) from economic materialism toward post-growth strategies; and (3) from anthropocentrism toward reconnecting human-nature relationships. We explicate what these paradigm shifts entail for democratizing transitions from distributive, procedural, recognition and restorative justice perspectives. Finally, we highlight six challenges to institutionalizing deep democratic governance. These entail balancing tensions between: multiple justice dimensions, democracy and urgency, top-down and bottom-up directionalities, local and global scales, realism and idealism, and roles of incumbent scientific systems. This requires thoroughly rethinking transition studies’ normative and democratic ambitions.
... It has been applied in a number of research areas related to environmental sociology, such as science and the related expertise, environmental governance, and citizen-consumers [24]. Reflexivity is seen as a major aspect of sustainable strategic steering at the macro-social level, which calls for reflexive governance [25,26] and governance networks [27]. It has been applied at the mezzo-social level to corporate sustainability [28] and system innovation processes [29,30]. ...
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In line with the social morphogenetic approach, this article explores the role of meta-reflexivity in responsible concerns and actions oriented toward achieving a sustainable society. Based on the case study of Slovenia, this article addresses individuals’ social and environmental responsibility by considering the relationships between their attitudes, intentions and behavior. It draws on a survey questionnaire that includes the reflexivity measurement tool. The path-analysis is applied to consider the aspects of responsibility as endogenous variables, while the social/cultural conditions (age, gender, educational level, income and the survey wave) and meta-reflexivity as a specific mode of inner dialog are included as exogenous variables. A coherent index of socially and environmentally responsible behavior can be constructed and explained by social/cultural conditions and meta-reflexivity. The COVID-19 pandemic indicates negative effects on responsibility, mostly due to a decline in meta-reflexivity. The study reveals two different—although not mutually exclusive—paths towards socially and environmentally responsible behavior. The first one is based on a combination of well-established values, habits and inertia. This behavior is more typical for older generations, as indicated by the impact of age. The second one is mostly based on critical, meta-reflexive thinking and it is more typical for younger, more educated and more affluent people.
“Responsible research and innovation” (RRI) is an approach that anticipates and assesses potential implications and societal expectations concerning research and innovation, intending to foster the design of inclusive and sustainable research and innovation. Particularly close cooperation between all stakeholders is expected in these aspects: science education, public engagement, access to research results and the application of new knowledge in full compliance with gender and ethics considerations. In the business world where competition is harsh, contracts are often short termed, and productivity is celebrated, there is an open question where does the “society” fit in? In a context that often observes “return on investment” as the main criterion for decision making, societal needs are always challenged to make and keep their place. This paper aims to explore the industrial perspective on RRI principles by presenting an overview in this field, current knowledge and limitations. Especially, the motivation of the industry to think in RRI terms is observed. Finally, conclusions are driven that may allow companies to better understand why and how to include society in their R&D processes.
Lies and disinformation have always existed throughout human history. However, disinformation has become a "pandemic within a pandemic" with convergence of COVID-19 and digital transformation of health care, climate emergency, and pervasive human-computer interaction in all facets of life. We are living through an era of post-truth. New approaches to fight disinformation are urgently needed and of paramount importance for systems science and planetary health. In this study, we discuss the ways in which extractive and entrenched epistemologies such as technocracy and neoliberalism co-produce disinformation. We draw from the works of David Collingridge in technology entrenchment and the literature on digital health, international affairs, climate emergency, degrowth, and decolonializing methodologies. We expand the vocabulary on and interventions against disinformation, and propose the following: (1) rapid epistemic disobedience as a critical governance tool to resist the cultural hegemony of neoliberalism and its master narrative infinite growth that is damaging the planetary ecosystems, while creating echo chambers overflowing with disinformation, and (2) a two-tiered taxonomy of reflexivity, a state of self-cognizance by knowledge actors, for example, scientists, engineers, and physicians (type 1 reflexivity), as well as by chroniclers of former actors, for example, civil society organizations, journalists, social sciences, and humanities scholars (type 2 reflexivity). This article takes seriously the role of master narratives in quotidian life in production of disinformation and ecological breakdown. The infinite growth narrative does not ask critical questions such as "growth in what, at what costs to society and environment?," and is a dangerous game of brinkmanship that has been testing the planetary ecological boundaries and putting at risk the veracity of knowledge. There is a need for scholars and systems scientists who break ranks with entrenched narratives that pose existential threats to planetary sustainability and are harmful to knowledge veracity. Scholars who resist the obvious recklessness and juggernaut of the pursuit of neoliberal infinite growth would be rooting for living responsibly and in solidarity on a planet with finite resources. The interventions proposed in this study, rapid epistemic disobedience and the expanded reflexivity taxonomy, can advance progressive policies for a good life for all within planetary boundaries, and decolonize knowledge from disinformation in ways that are necessarily upstream, radical, rapid, and emancipatory.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributes to common goods and common harms in our everyday lives. In light of the Collingridge dilemma, information about both the actual and potential harm of AI is explored and myths about AI are dispelled. Catholic health care is then presented as being in a unique position to exert its influence to model the use of AI systems that minimizes the risk of harm and promotes human flourishing and the common good.
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This review compares and discusses the literature and practice of Participatory Design (PD) and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in order to discover commonalities and contrast their approaches to similar challenges found in such ‘participatory’ methods. It seeks to gain insights from the older practice of PD and attempts to discover whether there are lessons that RRI could usefully draw on to address its own challenges. The paper suggests that PD’s understandings of the politics and power-dynamics surrounding inclusive methods; its democratisation imperative; and its nascent development of project documentation, may offer useful considerations for RRI. The paper concludes with some concrete suggestions for RRI as it continues to develop and be operationalised.
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Owen, R. & Pansera, M., (2019). Responsible Innovation and Responsible Research and Innovation in “Handbook on Science and Public Policy”, (Eds) Dagmar Simon, Stefan Kuhlmann, Julia Stamm, Weert Canzler, Edward Elgar publishing: Cheltenham.
Science and innovation have the power to transform our lives and the world we live in - for better or worse - in ways that often transcend borders and generations: from the innovation of complex financial products that played such an important role in the recent financial crisis to current proposals to intentionally engineer our Earth's climate. The promise of science and innovation brings with it ethical dilemmas and impacts which are often uncertain and unpredictable: it is often only once these have emerged that we feel able to control them. How do we undertake science and innovation responsibly under such conditions, towards not only socially acceptable, but socially desirable goals and in a way that is democratic, equitable and sustainable? Responsible innovation challenges us all to think about our responsibilities for the future, as scientists, innovators and citizens, and to act upon these. This book begins with a description of the current landscape of innovation and in subsequent chapters offers perspectives on the emerging concept of responsible innovation and its historical foundations, including key elements of a responsible innovation approach and examples of practical implementation. Written in a constructive and accessible way, Responsible Innovation includes chapters on: Innovation and its management in the 21st century. A vision and framework for responsible innovation. Concepts of future-oriented responsibility as an underpinning philosophy. Values - sensitive design. Key themes of anticipation, reflection, deliberation and responsiveness. Multi - level governance and regulation. Perspectives on responsible innovation in finance, ICT, geoengineering and nanotechnology. Essentially multidisciplinary in nature, this landmark text combines research from the fields of science and technology studies, philosophy, innovation governance, business studies and beyond to address the question, "How do we ensure the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society?".
This chapter introduces the components and characteristics of the governance framework. It focuses on the notions of responsibility and accountability and how innovation at the earliest stages of research, and by scientists themselves, can be more open and reflective. Then it turns to consider the types of regulatory tools that might bring more formal accountability to the governance of innovative technologies and their products, focusing on the points within the innovation and product network at which regulatory intervention might be appropriate and effective. It also suggests that there is a necessary dependence on soft law and co-operative approaches to embed notions of responsibility in the early stages of research and innovation. This leads us to consider the fundamental principles of an effective governance framework and to reflect on progress in, and requirements for, development of the essential tools to ensure anticipation, reflection, deliberation, and responsiveness.
This book presents a systematic analysis of how BSE policy was made in the UK and EU, 1986%#x2013;2004. The main focus is on the role of scientific expertise, advice, and evidence in policy-making processes, and its use by officials and ministers as a political resource. The central argument is that highly political and highly problematic policy decisions were often misrepresented as based on, and only on, sound science. Those tactics required the selective highlighting of scientific uncertainties. Since many of the most crucial policy-sensitive uncertainties were concealed or discounted, research to diminish those uncertainties was not undertaken. Since the claim had been that it was impossible for BSE-contaminated food to cause a human spongiform encephalopathy, when such cases emerged in 1996, the policy-making regime was comprehensively undermined and a crisis ensued. The BSE policy saga is used to develop and refine a general analytical framework with which science-based policy governance can be analysed, providing resources with which the book specifies the conditions under which such policy-making may achieve and reconcile scientific and democratic legitimacy.
In Rationality and Ritual, internationally renowned expert Brian Wynne offers a profound analysis of science and technology policymaking. By focusing on an episode of major importance in Britain's nuclear history – the Windscale Inquiry, a public hearing about the future of fuel reprocessing – he offers a powerful critique of such judicial procedures and the underlying assumptions of the rationalist approach.
The Netherlands has learned interesting lessons about ethics and innovation in the first decade of the twenty-first century. A real innovative design for an electronic patient record system or a truly smart electricity meter, would have anticipated or pre-empted moral concerns and accommodated them into its design, reconciling efficiency, privacy, sustainability, and safety. Innovation can take the shape of design solutions to situations of moral overload. Responsible innovation aims at changing the world in such a way that the pursuit of one horn of the dilemma is no longer necessarily at the expense of grabbing the other. It aims at grabbing the bull by both horns. Responsible innovation should, therefore, be distinguished from mere innovation or the adding of mere new functionality. Responsible innovation is the endeavor of attempting to add morally relevant functionality which allows us to do more good than before.