Update from Work Package 2: Laying the groundwork

The partners of work package 2 led by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) are making headway on the report on the state-of the-art and best practices in the governance of research and innovation (R&I) in the area of RRI. In the ETHNA System project, the overarching quality criteria for good governance in the R&I sector are those of “ethical” and “effective”.

When searching for promising R&I governance practices examples, experts are a main source of insight. Marit Hovdal Moan, who is driving the work package, is using the snowballing method to come to a deep understanding of the subject matter: each interviewee is asked to suggest other experts of relevance, either to uncover best practices or gain a better understanding of a given practice.

We need tailor-made solutions

Interviews with experts also shed light on the hopes and concerns of potentially affected stakeholders. A central question that has come up repeatedly in the interviews conducted so far is: “How realistic is it to aim for an integration of all aspects of RRI in all types of research and innovation projects, regardless”. Most experts seem to agree that there cannot be a single one-size-fits-all solution for every application. Framework conditions will need to be taken into consideration. Different disciplines, even different projects, may have to be addressed individually. One take-home message from the interviews conducted so far seems to be that “we need to have a governance system that allows for differentiation”, Marit summarises.

Opportunity or obstacle?

Another issue that is also recurring in the interviews is that of the significance of the framework conditions within which research and innovation is taking place, at national and global level. A key word here is the incentive systems, which are based on the premise that competition is beneficial to research and innovation, and which drives researchers to compete for publications, funding, and students. The opinion of the interviewees is divided: Some think that the current incentive system is a major hurdle to integrating RRI in R&I activities. Others consider it an opportunity: The significance of competition in R&I activities could be used to bring momentum to the advance of RRI practices.

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