RRI as governance of science

Magdalena Wicher

Advisor: Roger Strand
Institution: University of Bergen, NO – Faculty of Humanities
Start: 2019

R&I policy, funding and implementation are facing new demands and orientation towards the grand challenges of our time. Moving away from pure economic interests and narratives of growth and competitiveness to societal agendas, the direction towards societal challenges and sustainable development is seen as a “new” paradigm. This results in new forms of knowledge production and interaction that seem necessary to legitimize scientific processes and bring science in line with societal needs. The search for new governance models for science, technology and innovation requires a broader perspective to establish resilient and more robust knowledge systems. This thesis addresses these "new" forms of governance in R&I that seem required and that search for solutions to achieve these aims.

In the last decades, several concepts and approaches emerged as possible solutions reacting to these demands, which resulted in polices using terminologies like mission-orientation, third generation innovation policies or Transformative Innovation Policies (TIPs). One example on European level was the concept of RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation), conceptualized as an answer to the rising demand for new ways of governance of science, technology, and innovation towards more responsibility. Despite several attempts to integrate and promote the concept over the last decade, RRI is increasingly disappearing from European policy and research funding. This shift prompts an examination of the underlying governance mechanisms, agendas and objectives that have guided the discourse on open science and regulatory frameworks.

The question arises as to what happens in the translation between policy ideas, funding, and practice. What happens within institutions, organizations, and individuals, within policy, funding and projects, when being confronted with these new attempts of aligning science with societal needs. How do R&I policies succeed in pursuing their own goals and what does it mean for governance? To answer these questions, in the first paper the example of RRI is used to show how funding ideas are implemented in organizations and what role organizational learning plays therein. The second and fourth paper bases on the JPI climate funding program SOLSTICE , to explore the implementation of transformative policy ideas into funding and projects. The evaluation approach provides the methodological framework for the empirical works. Another aspect of the thesis will be to bring these approaches, which have many similarities but also differences, together in a further paper to see how they can influence each other to support democratic governance in the R&I system. Answering the above questions should lead to a better understanding of science (and innovation) governance in general, from the definition of a concept to implementation, evaluation/measurement and make visible steps and gaps in R&I policy translation.