Journal of Responsible Innovation, First Issue Review

Journal of Responsible Innovation, First Issue ReviewThe first issue is an open access publication, and represents a great body of work and foundation for future thinking about Responsible Innovation.

In this post I take a look at the first issue of the new Journal of Responsible Innovation. The journal is edited by David Guston, Co-Director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University and the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation with Erik Fisher (read his interview for IX here).

The journal is published through Taylor and Francis, and the first edition is open access and free to download on their website.

I would like to guide readers through the journal, offering my own informal view. The journal opens with the following research articles:

Article 1

Responsible innovation: motivations for a new journal is written by David H. Guston, Erik Fisher, Armin Grunwald, Richard Owen, Tsjalling Swierstra & Simone van der Burg.

This chapter offers an overview of ideas surrounding RI and latest developments, an overview of the first issue and the motivations for the new journal. An interesting read as it gives a good background and history to the ideas surrounding RI as well as painting a picture of the contemporary landscape.

Article 2

Governance of new product development and perceptions of responsible innovation (RI) in the financial sector: insights from an ethnographic case study, by Keren Asantea, Richard Owen and Glenn Williamson.

This is a great article that describes the innovation process within a global asset management company. The piece explains the innovation process using stage gates, and suggests that inserting RI practices to the gate process could make it more responsive and ethical.

Article 3

Mapping ‘social responsibility’ in science, by Cecilie Glerup & Maja Horst.

This article maps discussions and ideals about the responsibility of science toward society. Addressing the issue of RI governance, four different rationalities of the social responsibility of science are identified.

Article 4

Knowledge kills action – why principles should play a limited role in policy-making by J. Britt Holbrooka and Adam Briggle.

Of great interest to the many IX readers interested in policy, the authors analyze two principles, one that aims to prevent or restrain an activity until cause– effect relations are better understood (precaution), and the other whose aim is to generally promote the activity while learning more about cause–effect relations along the way (proaction).

They come to the conclusion that the significant middle ground shared by the two principles means that they could be used to arrive at very similar policy prescriptions.

Article 5

Where are the politics in responsible innovation? European governance, technology assessments, and beyond by Michiel van Oudheusden.

This author touches upon my pet love, the relationship between politics and innovation. To quote: “Because RI proponents act to change the world, so to speak, they engage in politics in a broad sense. Yet politics, as well as power, are not sufficiently theorized or acknowledged within the RI framework. It is therefore necessary to open RI and RI enactments to political critique, with the aim of remedying the shortcomings of RI”.

A discussion paper follows the research articles, Responsible innovation, the art and craft of anticipation by Alfred Nordmann.

The article offers 15 remarks on the art of anticipation and associated issues related to scenario planning and thinking about the future. There are 3 responses to this paper, each very different but offering insight and provocation for all those who reflect upon the future consequences of present acts.

The Perspectives section follows the Discussion Paper and Comments. These are short articles (2000 words) and are generally a much quicker read.

The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s commitment to a framework for responsible innovation by Richard Owen

Owen describes the development of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) framework for responsible innovation over a four-year period, a project that he was himself involved in. Here again our policy readers will enjoy the depth and implications of the involvement of social sciences in the world of innovation governance. He concludes with some thoughts about future directions.

Responsible innovation as an endorsement of public values: the need for interdisciplinary research by B. Taebia*, A. Correljéa, E. Cuppenb, M. Dignuma and U. Pesch.

The authors argue that responsible innovation requires interdisciplinary research. They suggest that responsible innovation can be realized by involving, alongside science and engineering:

the ethics of technology, to investigate the role of values in technological design, institutional theory, to understand the role of institutions in the realization of values, and policy, planning and Science and Technology Studies literature, to focus on stakeholder engagement.

Notes from the S.NET conference by Jonathan Hankins

My own contribution is a review of some of the articles presented at the S.NET conference held in Boston last year. I raise the issue of the underrepresentation of participatory approaches to the study of RI and suggest that these approaches may participatory approach may well go some way towards allowing policy-makers and governing bodies access to the informal mechanisms of research design, practice, and public perception.

The Perspectives section is followed by the Reviews section, featuring the following:

Special Eurobarometer 401: survey summary on responsible research and innovation, science and technology , reviewed by Grace Eden.

Refining expertise: how responsible engineers subvert environmental justice challenges by Kelly Moore is a review of the book of the title above written by Gwen Ottinger.

Ethics on the laboratory floor by Julio R. Tuma is a review of the book Ethics on the Laboratory Floor, by Simone van der Burg and Tsjalling Swierstra.

Fixed: the science/fiction of human enhancement by Stevienna de Saille is a review of Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, a new documentary by California filmmaker Regan Brashear.

In summary, the first issue is an open access publication, and represents a great body of work and foundation for future thinking about Responsible Innovation.

As a member of the Journal’s Editorial Board I invite readers to download the first issue, and thank and congratulate all of the contributors to this seminal publication.

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Jonny HankinsJonny Hankins is the Foreign Correspondent for Bassetti Foundation for Responsible Innovation. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Responsible Innovation, participates in the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation, and is the Responsible Innovation Editor for Innovation Excellence. Trained as a sociologist at the Victoria University of Manchester UK, his interests range from innovation in the renewable energy sector, bio and medical ethics and the role of politics in innovation, to questions of ethical and moral responsibility. He lives in Boston, MA where he is also a musician, actor and street performer.

Jonny Hankins




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