Creative tensions: mutual responsiveness adapted to private sector research and development

Life Sciences, Society and Policy 13 (1):1-24 (2017)
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The concept of mutual responsiveness is currently based on little empirical data in the literature of Responsible Research and Innovation. This paper explores RRI’s idea of mutual responsiveness in the light of recent RRI case studies on private sector research and development. In RRI, responsible innovation is understood as a joint endeavour of innovators and societal stakeholders, who become mutually responsive to each other in defining the ‘right impacts’ of the innovation in society, and in steering the innovation towards realising those impacts. Yet, the case studies identified several reasons for why the idea of mutual responsiveness does not always appear feasible or desirable in actual R&D situations. Inspired by the discrepancies between theory and practice, we suggest three further elaborations for the concept of responsiveness in RRI. Process-responsiveness is suggested for identifying situations that require stakeholder involvement specifically during R&D. Product-responsiveness is suggested for mobilising the potential of innovation products to be adaptable according to diverse stakeholder needs. Presponsiveness is suggested as responsiveness towards stakeholders that are not reachable at a given time of R&D. Our aim is to contribute to a more tangible understanding of responsiveness in RRI, and suggest directions for further analysis in upcoming RRI case studies.



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Lotte Asveld
Delft University of Technology