Practice makes perfect: Lessons learned from pilot implementations

During the ETHNA System project, six organisations from four different RRI contexts piloted the Ethics Governance System implementation. Their experiences, the barriers they encountered and the lessons that were learned have now been consolidated into a report.  

Sofia-based ARC Fund comprised a report that presents the main findings and outcomes from the critical evaluation of the ETHNA System implementation process. Among the major barriers were an insufficient understanding of the RRI concept, a lack of resources and a lack of support from senior management. Other implementors reported that the methodology can be applied too rigidly and “to the letter”, leading to its perception as an imposition rather than a benefit. In other cases, there was a reluctance to implement changes and reforms in the organization, either in the management or the staff, or both. For each of the barriers, the report lists a number of measures that might be taken to reduce them.  

The lessons learned from the ETHNA System implementation process are just as varied. The report notes that it is vital to plan your objectives realistically and be aware of a potential gap between approval and engagement. Stakeholders may wholeheartedly support the objectives of the ETHNA System, but they might not line up to contribute to the implementation.

Most of all, Marko Hajdinjak, senior researcher at Arc Fund and author of the report, noted that, organisations wishing to implement an Ethics Governance System should remember that there is no one-size-fits all solution. “The ETHNA System can be an excellent source for ideas and inspiration, but each organisation should develop its own path towards the RRI-paved institutional change,” Hajdinjak stresses. “A small but sustainable change is better than an overambitious plan for change that never comes to fruition.“ 

Read report or watch this video on the implementation experience.