The Conceptualization of RRI: An Iterative Approach

In Responsible Innovation. Springer International Publishing (2017)
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To stimulate research and innovation (R&I), to contribute to the solution of societal challenges and to align R&I with societal values, the European Commission has launched the governance framework of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). RRI figures in many high-level EU policies as a means to promote smart growth, and a growing community of R&I practitioners from both the public and private sectors appears committed to it. Although debates on what RRI precisely entails have not reached closure yet, RRI provides an interesting avenue to explore ways of making R&I more societally germane. While recognizing the usefulness of keeping critical reflection on RRI’s meaning alive, we suggest that to make the step from theorizing to implementation, RRI could benefit from a clearer conceptualization. This chapter presents the iterative trajectory in conceptualizing RRI followed as part of RRI Tools, one of a number of EC-funded research projects and support acts aimed at fleshing out what RRI can and should be, and the conceptualization of RRI that this led to. It suggests that RRI is best captured if in R&I governance attention is paid to the five p’s of Purpose, Products, Processes, Preconditions and People, and that further elaborations on the meaning of RRI should happen in dialogue with attempts at practicing RRI.

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