Skip to main content

Responsible Research and Innovation in a Distributed Anticipatory Governance Frame.
A Constructive Socio-normative Approach

Final Report Summary - RES-AGORA (Responsible Research and Innovation in a Distributed Anticipatory Governance Frame.A Constructive Socio-normative Approach)

Executive Summary:
The EU seeks to become a genuine Innovation Union in 2020 striving for excellent science, a competitive industry and a better society. However, it seeks to do so in a responsible way, i.e. without compromising on sustainability goals or ethically acceptable and socially desirable conditions. What exactly constitutes responsibility is, and will be, contested. However, the process by which responsibility is negotiated and institutionalized needs to be governed ap-propriately. Europe thus needs to develop a comprehensive governance framework for Re-sponsible Research and Innovation (RRI). This is the major goal of Res-AGorA.
The Res-AGorA governance framework builds on existing RRI governance practices across and beyond Europe. It is open, transparent, reflexive and adaptable to enable the inherent tensions in all governance of RRI to be actively addressed by procedural means aiming to facilitate constructive negotiations and deliberation between diverse actors.
The main final outputs of the project are a Responsibilty Navigator which is a set of concrete RRI governance principles and illustrations designed to facilitate related debate, negotiation, learning and decision making in a constructive and productive way, and a Co-Construction Method which is a collaborative workshop methodology designed to systematically support and facilitate the practical use of the Responsibility Navigator with stakeholders.
Res-AGorA achieved its objectives through a set of work packages providing an empirically grounded comparative analysis of a diverse set of existing RRI governance arrangements and their theoretical/conceptual underpinnings in different situations (WP2 and WP3), a continuous monitoring of RRI trends and developments in selected countries (WP5) and, based on the cumulative insights derived from these work packages, the central building blocks and procedures of a governance framework for RRI (WP4), co-constructed with stakeholders.
The Res-AGorA governance framework delivered cognitive and normative guidance that can be applied flexibly in different contexts. Res-AGorA will thus have direct impact on RRI practices (science, industry, policy), and strategic impact in terms of the political goals (Horizon 2020) and competitiveness (Lead Market through growing acceptance of new technologies).
Res-AGorA ensured intensive stakeholder interaction and wide dissemination of its tangible and intangible outputs in order to maximise impact, including comprehensive and interactive stakeholder engagement, liaisons with other ongoing RRI activities funded by the SiS (Science in Society) Work Programme, and a final conference.

Project Context and Objectives:
The quest for responsible research and innovation has made remarkable progress over the last few years. Starting from a rather confined academic debate calling for responsible innovation, the idea is now part of the European Union’s research and innovation in Europe policy as a cross-cutting theme in the current framework programme Horizon 2020. Furthermore, the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) received high-level endorsement from the European Council in 2014, and initiatives promoting responsible (research and) innovation have also taken root in a number of European countries (e.g. the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Norway).
The Res-AGorA project is part of this dynamic discourse and the notable policy developments related to RRI. Running from 2013 to 2016, the EU-funded project Res-AGorA has co-constructed a good-practice governance framework with practitioners and strategic decision-makers – the ‘Responsibility Navigator’ –, which facilitates reflective processes involving multiple stakeholders and policy-makers with the generic aim of making European research and innovation more responsible, responsive, and sustainable. The project’s key output, the Res-AGorA ‘Responsibility Navigator’, was conceived as a means to provide orientation for governance without normatively steering research and innovation in a specific direction.

The project idea and conceptual foundations: Res-AGorA’s socio-normative approach
Res-AGorA is a response to a call for research proposals included in the European Commission’s Science-in-Society Work Programme for 2012 (European Commission 2011). The call text specifically required the development of a governance framework for RRI, and emphasised that
“[r]esearch should take into account the role of various actors, such as legislative, standard setting and certification bodies, regulatory bodies, civil society organisations, research institutions and business operators.” (European Com-mission 2011b: 7f.)
Furthermore, the call explained that a
“... comprehensive governance model for Responsible Research and Innovation does not yet exist at the European Level. The availability of such a model and information on the practical role of public engagement can make it possible for policymakers to start working on its implementation, thereby allowing stakeholders and interested citizens to participate and co-design an innovation process for which they can share responsibility.” (European Commission 2011b: 8)
In addition to the challenging mission of developing such a comprehensive governance framework for Europe, the call also required applicants to propose a monitoring exercise to observe trends and developments in RRI in Europe, thereby building on the work of the MASIS project.
The representatives of the partner institutions who would later form the Res-AGorA consortium were immediately motivated to respond to this ambitious call. However, a closer look at the challenges associated with such an endeavour prompted a number of consequential considerations.
First, the broader policy context within which a European governance frame-work for RRI would need to operate is characterised by the European Union’s ambitious goal to become a genuine innovation union, in which “research and innovation are key drivers of competitiveness, jobs, sustainable growth and social progress” (European Commission 2012b: 4). The Horizon 2020 strategy was developed for this purpose with three simultaneous objectives: excellent science, competitive industry and a better society. However, a number of grand challenges need to be addressed with respect to the latter, such as health and well-being or climate change (European Commission 2011a).
These societal challenges already provide research and innovation with a number of normative directions. An influential trend of orientating research and innovation towards societal goals can be observed. This has been given additional momentum by the debate on responsible research and innovation. RRI emphasises specific qualities of research and innovation practices, aims to redefine the roles and responsibilities at science-society interfaces (Nielsen et al. 2015: 58) and has reopened the fundamental debate about how research and innovation can contribute to the desirable futures our societies are striving for. Such normativity is an inherent feature in most definitions of and frameworks for responsible research and innovation, and is explicitly stated in the call text, to which the Res-AGorA project responded (European Commis-sion 2011b).
Against this background, the Res-AGorA partners did not intend to engage in contributing to the ongoing collective search for and foundation of normative directions. Instead, the real challenge to any RRI framework is the consistent realisation of normative goals. General aspirations such as “excellent science, competitive industry and a better society” are beyond dispute, as is the generic aim to make research and innovation more ‘responsible’. However, the challenge lies in the concurrent and concrete application of these high-level normative goals while not compromising sustainability, ethical acceptability and social desirability. Who defines desirable directions, on what grounds and based on which processes? While postulating certain normative positions à priori is legitimate, the debates related to RRI have not yet adequately addressed how to deal with the inevitable tensions, conflicts and related power games that arise when a heterogeneous, pluralistic actor landscape with diverging interests is confronted by norms and values intended to change behaviour.
In short, the first central assumption of the Res-AGorA project was that the ap-plication of normative positions will more often than not be contested. Conse-quently, acknowledging normative pluralism poses the challenge of identifying conditions and viable mechanisms able to address contestation and facilitate the capacities and capabilities of the relevant actors to engage in constructive negotiations.

Second, the quest for responsible research and innovation did not start from scratch. The institutions, organisations, actors and procedures constituting re-search and innovation are subject to and influenced by a thick fabric of gover-nance arrangements and practices. These arrangements are highly complex, interwoven, and concurrently incorporate different types of governance (hie-rarchy, market-based mechanisms, networks), and numerous governance in-struments (hard and soft law, information, persuasion, participation, etc.) and levels (from local to global). An important part of these heterogeneous ar-rangements and practices is concerned with preventing harm, assessing risks, protecting consumers and the environment. In addition to these forms of regulation, Corporate Social Responsibility schemes, ethical reviews, profes-sional standards, various forms of technology assessment, foresight processes, ELSA research, stakeholder engagement and public participation related to research and innovation agenda-setting can be seen as efforts to influence the directions and impacts of research and innovation in a desirable way. These various, often well-established arrangements and mechanisms represent what Res-AGorA has coined ‘RRI in the making’ or the de facto governance (cf. Rip 2010) of RRI.
Thus, the second premise of the Res-AGorA project was that any effective go-vernance framework for RRI should take co-existing governance arrangements into account, learn from them, and, where deemed useful, constructively inte-grate them into such a framework (Chapter 5).

Based on these two assumptions, the consortium’s ambition was to conduct a research project which would result in a governance framework that supports strategic decision-makers and practitioners in research and innovation to trans-form current practices and institutional conditions in order to make the out-comes of research and innovation more ‘responsible’.
While the concrete composition, scope and application level of the governance framework were undecided at the start of the project, Res-AGorA deliberately followed an approach that analysed tensions, barriers and opportunities in the de facto governance of RRI. This means that the normativity in our investigation primarily originated from empirical analyses of existing governance arrangements, often involving contestation, and the related normative claims. Learning from these dynamics in different settings and situations enabled us to design a governance framework for RRI capable of modulating these dynamics and their inherent tensions in a transformative way. We called this a “constructive and socio-normative” approach.
Accordingly, the Res-AGorA project proposed to develop a framework support-ing actors in governing towards more responsible research and innovation, where the normative substance is negotiated by the actors themselves as part of an ongoing process of reflexive, anticipative, and responsive adaptation of research and innovation to changing societal challenges.

Project Results:

In the following, a selection of the key project outputs will be presented. In section 1, the scientometric analysis of the emerging RRI discourse is presented. This, together with other theory-inspired analyses of the RRI concept informed the conceptual development of the Res-AGorA governance framework – the Responsibility Navigator.
Section 2 briefly summarises the approach to and the results of the project’s empirical case study programme.
In section 3, the key results of the RRI monitoring exercise in 16 European countries are presented.
All these and many other research activities eventually fed into the final output of Res-AGorA, the Responsibility Navigator (section 4) and the complementary Co-construction Method (section 5).
The content of these summaries are all taken from deliverable D4.11.

1. Evolution of a concept: a Scientometric analysis of RRI

Res-AGorA performed a scientometric and textual analysis of texts related to RRI. In order to grasp this emerging word of power, we designed a dual approach which takes into account the evolution of the use of the term ‘responsibility’ related to research and innovation (lato sensu approach) and the evolution of the expression RRI (stricto sensu approach). By using the former approach, we show that the use of responsibility is not unified but that it has formed different streams related to different concerns and to different intellectual traditions, namely: research integrity, risks related to innovation, and more recently research governance (which is the main root of RRI). When dealing with the latter approach, we define RRI as a concept which is not (yet?) stabilized and we analyse RRI as a discursive space. This allows us to identify tensions and conflicts which are related to RRI and hence to outline its main stakes in terms of research and innovation policies.

Scope and methodology
Although RRI benefits from a fair amount of institutional support, its definition is not yet stabilized. This variety of definitions is a challenge to textual analysis. We designed a stricto sensu approach that gathers documents whose content includes the words “responsible research and innovation. A lato sensu approach gathers documents whose content is semantically close to the ideas of “responsible research” and “responsible innovation”.
RRI stricto sensu corpus - A Google Scholar query on “responsible research and innovation” brought in 548 references, of which only 107 references were relevant (20%). Given that 12 documents remained unavailable (mostly ongoing thesis or conference work), we relied on 97 documents for content analysis. Then, to study the discursive space, we classified the documents according to their amount of discussion on RRI, and kept only those whose topic mainly focused on RRI (n=27). Most of the remaining texts mentioned the term without further developing or extending the concept. We coded the text of the corpus for three dimensions of analysis: 1/ Types of governance of innovation (self-governance of research and innovators v. new regulatory State); 2/ Major stakes of research and innovation in society (need for a paradigm change to address grand challenges vs foster acceptance of new technologies); 3/ Meaning of responsibility (retrospective account (accountability, liability) vs future-oriented responsibility).
RRI lato sensu corpus - First, we retrieved a corpus from the bibliographical database Scopus, with the following query executed on fields AB, TI, AUTHKEY (n=206 documents): “responsible research” OR “responsible innovation” OR (“RRI” AND responsib*) . Second, a list of terms extracted from TI, AB and AUTHKEY was produced and checked (n=412 terms) and close semantic terms, i.e. terms related to the notion of responsibility of research, were selected to broaden the stricto sensu query. The lato sensu corpus includes 4585 references, obtained with the final query: "responsible research" OR "responsible innovation" OR ("RRI" AND responsib*) OR "responsible development" OR "ethics in research" OR (("ELSA" OR "ELSI") and "ethic*") OR "responsible conduct of research" OR (RCR AND responsib*) OR "research integrity" OR "scientific integrity" OR "scientific misconduct" OR "research misconduct" OR "broad* impact*" OR "technolog* risk". We relied on the chain of tools available on the CorText Manager Platform to identify clusters of thoughts (socio-epistemic networks) and their historical origin.
The position of RRI in the wider landscape of scientific responsibility
This analysis of the RRI lato sensu corpus shows that the same radical, ‘responsib*’ is used by different actors with different meanings. Several trends are revealed: scientific responsibility is an old and institutionalized discourse (with its actors, organizations, competences, training programmes, etc.). However, responsible innovation (and RRI) is different, both in terms of semantic network and intellectual tradition. The trend devoted to RRI is strongly linked to the words ‘governance’, ‘science and technology studies’, and ‘responsible innovation’. Interestingly, it is related to some old references like Michael Polyani (1962) ‘The Republic of Science” and David Collingridge (1980) “The social control of technology”, two authors who have raised the question of science and technology governance in very different ways. The other references are post-1990 and include (among other) issues related to the role of publics (authors Funtowicz and Schott), to the recasting of relations between science, society and democracy (Jasanoff, Kitcher), to the governance of science and technology (Guston, Gibbons), to responsible development of research (Nordmann) and to responsible innovation.
The uptake of ‘RRI’ in the literature started in 2011. It is highly connected to research projects funded by the European Commission (“EU.projects”), or to a Commission context (e.g. conferences, writings of scientific officers: “EU.related”) and is discussed, used or mentioned by authors working in Europe. Most of the authors discussing it are scholars (90%), of which 34% are also involved in research policy, either at the national or European level. Most of the authors are social sciences and humanities (SSH) scholars based in Europe, many of whom are involved in European projects or interact closely with the European Commission. Hence, the coalition attached to the RRI discourse includes social scientists, a small group of European Commission Officers involved in the science / society field, and some consultancies.

The analysis of the lato sensu corpus shows that it is not the practice of scientific research as such that is at stake, but instead its implications (positive and negative) for society. It is not only about controlling adverse effects but also about a broader appraisal of transformative effects of science and technology. Although RRI has its own characteristics, one of the questions for the future is the way some connections between the different clusters of this broad landscape can be established, including the wide trend of Responsible Conduct of Research which is currently prominent in the US.
An analysis of RRI as a discursive space
In comparison with the other discourses on responsible research identified in the lato sensu corpus, the RRI stream focuses on governance of innovation. All the texts have a position that limits the role of governments to the support of the activities and coordination of involved actors. The governance process appears to be opened to a variety of actors, well beyond scientists: stakeholders, the general public, users, consumers, etc.
The discourse of RRI is very distant from earlier discourses on scientific responsibility since it raises the issue of the goals of research upfront. The texts of the stricto sensu corpus share a representation of innovation as an interactive and transformative process. The traditional representation of innovation as a linear, top down process is systematically challenged. This leads to a call for more inclusive, deliberative processes of research/innovation. Taking such a position, these texts are far from original. They reflect what is ‘in the air’: a new vulgate on research and innovation originating from research in STS and Studies of Policies for Research and Innovation (SPRI) that gained political influence in the late 90’s. Interestingly, these texts also point out the internal contradictions of RRI and the risk of the approach to be used only for legitimizing reasons, without challenging the objectives of research and innovation.
The emphasis on the collective and prospective dimensions of responsibilities is pervasive in the corpus. Responsibility is less a matter of liability and accountability than a matter of care, responsiveness, anticipation. It is less a matter of avoiding hazards and unintended consequences than failing to develop solutions to address crucial societal challenges. As compared to the Lato sensu corpus, the notion of responsibility is broader, but also weaker. In the streams related to research ethics and deontology, responsibility is related to professional norms of behaviour, hence the references to Merton, Rawls, and references to bioethics. The notion of responsibility is mainly associated to ‘virtue responsibility’ (Vincent 2011) and it is individual. In the stream of risk, the sense of responsibility is related to the hazards, and hence to ‘causal responsibility’ and liability (Vincent 2011). Interestingly, precautionary principle, a concept present in the map leads to an extension of individual responsibility, even though there is no certainty about the causal relations involved. As compared to this, the texts of the corpus generally point out the difficulties of attributing responsibility. One text refers to the ecology of responsibilities, another coins the notion of distributed epistemic responsibility. Added to the general reluctance to set legally binding devices, this weakens the role of responsibility as a governance tool. Hence, responsibility is much broader since it includes the concern to seriously address societal challenges but, as we have just shown, it is weaker.
In different respects, RRI appears as a breakthrough compared to earlier discourses on scientific responsibility. Contrary to what might be expected, RRI discourses are quite convergent and they have three distinctive features. First, RRI discourses are about governance of innovation. Drawing on difficulties related to new emerging sciences and technologies, RRI seriously takes into account the need to govern innovation in order to address major societal challenges. Second, although RRI discourse acknowledges the limited capabilities of government to steer research and innovation, it refers to inclusive and participative forms of governance, and thus is differentiated from early discourses that praised self-regulation of science by scientists. Third, the meaning of responsibility embedded in RRI is prospective rather than retrospective, moral rather than legal, collective rather than individual, and it is concerned with failing to address major challenges rather than avoiding unintended consequences.
The analysis performed allowed us to identify only one main position in the discursive space. Most of the authors of the corpus consider that RRI is associated to a paradigm shift, moving from a competitive frame to societal grand challenges. The society they imagine is a Habermassian one, where rational deliberation is instrumental in defining common goals and assembling citizens of all countries to fight against global enemies (climate change, global hunger, etc.). In order to do this, we need a new social contract between science and society. Although they do not appear in our analysis, we can identify some other positions in the discursive space, related to other imagined societies. One may be defined as neo-elitist and technophile. Science and technology are still considered as the main source of progress and the solution to the problems we face, either grand challenges or economic growth. But public deliberation is not an option since citizens do not have the required knowledge and their perceptions are biased. Public participation is at best populism and it is up to those who know that they have to take responsibility and make good decisions. The traditional social contract based on a strong boundary between science and society has to be preserved: the strong autonomy of science under the umbrella of the state, and free market competition to promote Schumpeterian innovation. In this sense, substituting prospective responsibility with a retrospective one is crucial since the mood of ‘risk society’ has led to apply risk-adverse policies – i.e. the precautionary principle as a way to block innovation and new technologies - and that it is necessary to rebuild a culture of innovation in Europe. On the other hand, radical critiques are also against public deliberation because they consider participation as a way to manipulate public opinion. The environmental and societal problems we currently face are huge. But it is necessary to address them through political and societal changes, and get rid of the technological fix. This position shares Hamlet’s concern about an uncertain trajectory: “rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of”. In this world view, legal framework, liability and accountability are key elements that may protect those who are in a weak position, and prevent irresponsible behaviour. Hence, the discursive space of RRI is more conflicted than it may appear in our textual analysis.
We performed the analysis on a corpus built in early 2014, a period in which RRI is in an embryonic and exponential growth stage. The future of RRI does not only depend on dynamics within the discursive space, but also on the possible relations with earlier discourses of scientific responsibility. Questions related to ethics, deontology, risk management, might be reframed in RRI as a larger paradigm. This would eventually allow RRI to enrol organisations such as ethical committees or those devoted to responsible conduct of research.
In any case, RRI as a new word of power is related to broader changes of governance, related to the weakening of the power of national states, the rise of soft law, and the acknowledgement of the role of civil society. It is definitively embedded in a new way to govern science in society.

2. Res-AGorA case studies: Drawing Transversal Lessons

A hallmark of the Res-AGorA project is the extensive and deep empirical programme consisting of 26 case studies. This empirical programme was motivated by the opening proposition of the Res-AGorA conceptual schema to consider responsibility in research and innovation as emergent, or ‘In-the-Making’. That is, as a historically unfolding process co-evolving with understandings of what it means to be responsible in any particular context (responsible to whom and for what?).
This drove us to design an inductive/deductive process, to investigate how responsibility is understood and operationalized by the actors themselves, not through our a-priori researcher lenses or our own views on how responsibility should be understood and enacted. Analysing the cases allowed us to appreciate and reveal the contested normative underpinnings – by which we mean actors’ values and interpretations of ‘good’ conduct – through which responsibility is framed and discursively presented by actors. In addition, the analysis showed how actors collectively negotiate, design and implement a variety of governance instruments, embedding these normative underpinnings into concrete processes and practices, and organisational and incentive structures.
Understanding this process as de-facto responsible research and innovation (rri) we were also inspired by Rip’s concept of de-facto governance understood as involving top-down steering and bottom-up governance experimentation, simultaneously (Rip 2010). In our case study programme we sought to reflect a full spectrum and variety of research and innovation contexts, situations and governance challenges faced by actors, into which interpretations of responsibility play. Though obviously not representing this variety in the case study programme, we rather sought to learn lessons by scanning transversally and triangulating the recurring and/or differentiated findings revealed across the intentionally heterogeneous body of case studies.
In the following, we present the main transversal lessons derived from the case analysis. Before doing so, we summarise the methodology which enabled the team of case-workers drawn from all the consortium partners, to generate the suite of Res-AGorA case studies. To illustrate the diversity of cases, we then provide a brief overview of the five case studies we decided to feature in this report. Out of the total of 26 case studies conducted, the selected five reflect the breadth and variety of research and innovation contexts and situations, that responsibility in research and innovation encounters, and that policy needs to be attentive to.
The case studies were chronologically progressed in three stages. The staged approach operationalised our commitment to repeatedly iterate and refine the relationship between the conceptual building bricks that formed the research model (reported in Chapter 5), which deductively ‘guided’ the case studies; and the learning that we derived inductively, or bottom-up, from the individual and collective case findings.
Stage 1 of the programme was loosely guided by an early version of the conceptual building blocks. The analysis from Stage 1 in turn helped to refine the conceptual model, which then more tightly guided the Stage 2 cases. Stage 3 was slightly different and combined finishing aspects carried over from Stage 1 and 2 with a new focus, moving from contexts of multi-actor arrangements in Stage 1 and 2, or a focus on individual governance instruments or mechanisms, to single organisation contexts.
The three stages of the case study programme appear on the Res-AGorA website at where each listing is linked to the written-up case report providing a resource for further in-depth reading. See also the case studies final synthesis report (Edler et al 2015).
Analysis: Drawing Transversal Lessons
A first step in the analysis of the first and second stage cases was to read across the body of cases in order to identify, in conversation with individual case authors, what we considered to be a number of critical dimensions: features which commonly recurred as descriptive and/or explanatory pointers, despite the variety of responsibility situations and governance challenges which the body of cases covered. We differentiated these critical features into substantive dimensions, which concern the techno-scientific domain at the heart of the case, the local political economic, cultural and institutional context, the landscape of actors involved, and the nature, object and framing of contestation; and procedural ones, which concern governance processes and procedures. The cases were then presented as a series of differentiated governance situations and challenges, analysed through the lens of the critical dimensions, in an interim analysis report (Edler et al. 2014).
Finally it was the task of the Manchester team at the end of Stage 3, to read across the full body of completed cases to draft and then stabilise, in conversation with colleagues from partner institutions, in particular colleagues from the University of Twente, a series of lessons aiming to assist actors who are practically and strategically involved in the governance of responsibility in research and innovation. The lessons became known as the Res-AGorA ‘13 Transversal Lessons’ on the governance and institutionalisation of responsibility in research and innovation, and formed the main conclusion and output of a report for stakeholders and practitioners (Randles et al. 2015a).
The transversal lessons are reproduced in the Policy Brief #1, Lessons from RRI-in- the-Making.,December 2015 (
The 13 transversal lessons are clustered into five groups. A first group considers participation and deliberation in governance processes, emphasising the importance of inclusion and the role of trusted intermediation. A second group concerns how knowledge is constructed, understood and mobilised into anticipative processes, with an eye to ensuring appropriate timing, recognising tensions between narratives to accelerate versus narratives to be more careful, attentive, systematic and thorough in the design and implementation of more trusted rri governance processes. A third group maintains that responsibility in research and innovation is more effectively transformative when normative goals are clearly articulated and integrated, and identifies the important role of boundary objects and boundary actors in affecting integration. A fourth cluster has become a defining feature of the Res-AGorA cases findings and identifies that for transformative change which embeds articulated normative goals into actor practices and processes there is a need to build the capacities of organisations and systems and the capabilities of all actors to participate. The critical role of institutional entrepreneurs as leaders and champions who keep change processes ‘on track’ was also identified.
By contrast, in some of the case studies, responsibility claims were found to be rather superficially implemented with little traction over more permanent or resilient institutional change (a finding we termed responsibility-wash); in others, new interpretations of responsibility were layered atop already existing understandings and practices of responsibility (a finding we termed responsibility-overload) and in a third case-type ‘business as usual’ practices were newly labelled as Responsible Research and Innovation (a strategy we termed responsibility re-labelling). We offer the over-arching idea of responsibilisation as the compound objective through which actors’ are entreated to embed normative goals of responsibility (See chapter 5) and deep institutionalisation representing a compound concept capturing how this occurs in practice, as the over-arching learning lesson from our cases (Randles et al. 2014).

Concluding Remarks
The analysis of the 26 cases and the 13 lessons reported in this chapter provided essential empirical underpinning, supporting the development of the 10 principles of responsibility which formed the basis of the Responsibility Navigator. They also provided one of several inputs into the stakeholder co-construction workshops. Finally, the body of case-work was drawn upon in order to construct the fictive cases or practical illustrations which support the 10 principles of the Responsibility Navigator. The five case studies summarised in this chapter illustrate the range of research and innovation situations and governance challenges and are selected for this reason from the 26 case studies. The five cases are discussed further in the five chapters which follow showing the richness, tensions, context-specificity and complexity of challenges raised in each case.

3. Monitoring RRI in Europe: Approach and Key Observations
When the Res-AGorA project was designed, it was decided to extend and refine earlier monitoring activities in the field of science-in-society activities as part of the vast empirical programme within the project. The ‘RRI-Trends’ component of Res-AGorA was developed to explore issues related to RRI across organisations and countries based on a uniform approach, thus allowing for comparative analyses. RRI-Trends feed into the overall empirical research programme of Res-AGorA by examining de facto governance arrangements around research and innovation across a variety of different organisations and situations.
The monitoring approach and key questions
RRI-Trends covers a total of 16 European countries. These include the seven countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom). In addition to these eight pre-selected countries, another eight countries were selected with the intention of capturing European heterogeneity. The MASIS monitoring work had already pointed to significant variations across Europe, and the selection of countries for RRI-Trends was designed to ensure that cross-country diversity with regard to RRI would not be neglected.
Hence, an initial scanning exercise collected existing indicators and metrics on issues pertaining to the organisation of science in society, as a background for making an informed choice about which countries should be included in RRI-Trends. These indicators tapped into models and degrees of citizen involvement in science and technology, patterns of science communication and public debate related to science and technology, and the use of science in policy-making, which have been influential dimensions in the European Commission’s Science in Society schemes. The scanning exercise also collected data related to innovation capacity, R&D intensity, and the interaction of public and private research, as well as data on gender equality in science. While these existing indicators had not been tailor-made to the notion of RRI, they were, however, conceptually related and were considered adequate as ‘proxies’ for the RRI indicators to be developed by RRI-Trends and therefore adequate for the country selection procedure. Using cluster analyses, European countries were divided into six clusters with limited intra-cluster variation. Interestingly, the eight pre-selected countries were all contained within the same cluster, indicating that these countries were in fact fairly similar in terms of how science is placed in society. This provided a strong argument for selecting the remaining eight countries from across the remaining five clusters, in order to ensure sensitivity to diversity across Europe. Based on this reasoning, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, and Spain were selected as the eight complementary countries for further exploration in RRI-Trends.
The backbone of RRI-Trends is a group of national correspondents, one from each of the 16 countries, who have considerable knowledge of the current RRI discussions combined with expert knowledge about policies and actor landscapes in their respective countries. The correspondents performed research in their own country using a common approach and addressing shared research questions. The empirical research included document analyses and a series of qualitative interviews, and was implemented in three consecutive waves.
The first wave of research in RRI-Trends aimed at providing an initial understanding of the dimensions of RRI that materialize in national policies, the actors who are involved in the governance of RRI, the techno-scientific domains that RRI governance addresses, and the variety in policy mechanisms that are applied at the national level. Correspondents selected 10 important, recent documents exemplifying national policies on RRI in their respective countries. Documents included, e.g. national research or innovation strategies, laws and their supporting documentation, communications / declarations / resolutions and other means for soft regulation, contracts between state and universities, and white papers. For each document, the correspondents provided an abstract in English. Based on this collection, a brief analysis was developed and presented as the first component of the national reports.
While the first wave established a broad panorama of the national RRI landscape, the consecutive waves zoomed in on particularly important and interesting ‘spots on the map’ in terms of specific organisations. The second wave focused on two themes, namely ‘responsibility in funding research and innovation’ and ‘responsibility in performing research and innovation’ across both the public and the private sector. Correspondents researched four different types of actors in their respective countries: the most prominent national public research funding agency (e.g. the national research council), an important private research foundation, a selection of 10 universities, and two selected research-intensive private companies. Based on desk research and qualitative methods, correspondents explored the saliency of the RRI notion and the extent of international learning in relation to RRI, the implicit understandings of responsibility in the practices and strategies of these actors, the actual mechanisms for obtaining responsibility in research and innovation, the organisational opportunities and incentive structures for achieving RRI, and the barriers or obstacles for its implementation.
Finally, the third wave explored the civil society organisations’ uptake of the RRI concept and addressed issues similar to the second wave but within the context of actors who are distinctly independent from the state and also distinctly not traditional profit-driven market actors. Correspondents selected one such 3rd sector organisation (e.g. advocacy groups, foundations, NGOs, not-for-profit think tanks, patient organisations, learned societies etc.) and performed interviews to address RRI aspects relating to the organisation. The table below summarizes the contents of the three waves of RRI-Trends.
In total, RRI-Trends has identified and examined several hundred documents relating, directly or indirectly, to the issue of responsibility in research and innovation at the national level and at the level of specific organisations across 16 countries. More than 200 individual organisations have been covered by the collective research effort. An important ambition has been to make the vast empirical information, which was gathered, accessible to interested users. In order to ensure open access and transparency, the material has been uploaded to a tailor-made platform on the Res-AGorA website. The background documents as well as the national reports provided by correspondents can be selectively accessed by visitors.
Key observations across countries
When reflecting on the objectives for RRI-Trends, it is useful to distinguish between vertical and horizontal use of the collected data. In terms of the vertical perspective, RRI-Trends provides useful knowledge of the situation in the separate countries, from the overall national policy set down by research funding organisations and research performing organisations to civil society organisations. It thus establishes a national profile, which is presented on the website as a separate national report for each country. Anyone interested in RRI issues in Italy, for example, can access the Italian report. In terms of the horizontal perspective, the collected data can also be compared across countries. If users of RRI-Trends are particularly interested in, for example, public funding agencies, the designated parts of the reports can be extracted across a selected number of countries. The intention is to allow comparative analyses and flexible access to the contents of the website.
In the two succeeding chapters of this report, the ‘horizontal’ and the ‘vertical’ potential of the database will be exemplified. In Chapter 9, Velsing Nielsen et al. provide an analysis of RRI at European universities, based on cross-reading of the university case studies across the 16 countries. In Chapter 10, Daimer et al. offer a rich introduction to one specific country, Germany, and discuss the specific national policy context for RRI. The analytical work in RRI-Trends is intended to continue along paths similar to those presented in the succeeding chapters, also beyond the life-span of the Res-AGorA project, and hopefully the collected data will also be used by academics, policy makers, and representatives from civil society outside of the Res-AGorA consortium. As a conclusion to this chapter, however, a few general observations emerging from RRI-Trends can be noted.
One main result of the RRI-Trends is that while the notion of ‘RRI’ is emerging in some countries and across several organisational sites, it is not a mainstreamed concept across the European research and innovation actor landscape. In many research funding and performing organisations, public and private, as well as in civil society organisations, the RRI terminology is simply not used.
This does not imply, however, that concerns, practices and governance arrangements relating to responsibility in research and innovation are not salient. On the contrary, we find widespread examples of thorough organisational commitment to responsible research and innovation. Even if these are established under different headings, they are clearly apparent in, for example, CSR, sustainability schemes or diversity management in private companies, or in codes of conduct, research integrity training or gender equality plans at universities. A useful example is the organisational landscape for competitive research funding in the United Kingdom. Here, neither the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council nor the Welcome Trust, which are two major funding institutions examined by the UK correspondent, have explicitly adopted the RRI terminology. However, both of these have prominently engaged with issues of responsibility in research and innovation in multiple ways. The UK case studies thus underline that organisations can be actively practicing responsibility in research and innovation without applying the specific terminology.
A second main observation of RRI-Trends is the heterogeneity of governance arrangements for responsible research and innovation across countries and types of actors. Inclusive governance, e.g. features prominently in some countries, while citizen and CSO engagement plays less of a role in other countries. Likewise, open access and open data are core responsibility concerns within some organisations but not noticeably important within other settings. There are, in other words, a diversity of bottom-up responses to what it means to be responsible in different research and innovation situations, organisation types, and national political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. In France, e.g. concerns around ethics in research and development of codes of ethics can be traced across different institutions, whereas this dimension of RRI features less intensively in other countries.
The diversity of understanding and practices of responsibility in research and innovation is highlighted by RRI-Trends as well as the rest of the empirical research programme of Res-AGorA. This observation has been acknowledged in the development of the governance framework for RRI, specifically reflected and translated into a principle of subsidiarity as a component of the framework. An RRI agenda is clearly developing in Europe, but there is no single, simple trend or model of it across European countries and institutions.

4. The Res-AGorA Responsibility Navigator

Ten Governance Principles and Requirements for Responsibilisation
The following is a brief description of the Res-Agora principles and requirements for responsibility-related governance. It includes a set of questions which those interested in ‘navigating’ towards responsibilisation in Europe and beyond would have to ask themselves in order to arrive at practices and directions that are widely accepted. The ten principles are organised into the three dimensions of (1) Ensuring Quality of Interaction, (2) Positioning and Orchestration, and (3) Developing Supportive Environments. In the corresponding deliverable and (D4.11) and the practitioner-oriented publications (see principles 1 – 9 are illustrated by short fictive cases.
Ensuring quality of interaction

4.1. Inclusion
Navigation towards responsibilisation is more likely to be transformative if it takes into account the diversity of actors relevant to the problem or project. It should do so in a way that engages these actors directly and effectively in debate or joint activities, and considers both their material interests and core values. The actors should perceive the processes of sense- and decision-making as legitimate, transparent and trustworthy.
The guiding questions to follow this principle are: a) Are all the relevant actors included/considered in the debates? b) Are all the included actors relevant and able to make effective contributions to the debates?

4.2. Moderation
Organisational modes appropriate to build trust, collect data and organise dialogue are needed in the form of ‘fora'. These are institutionalised places or procedures for interaction, and for ‘bridging’ different perspectives between contesting actors, after which some alignment of goals and procedures is expected.
Guiding questions include: a) Are moderation mechanisms being put in place that allow the build-up of trust, and a broad exchange of arguments and evidence? b) Do all the actors involved and affected accept these mechanisms; are they perceived as legitimate?

4.3. Deliberation
Sense-making and decision-making among actors with different knowledge claims and positions, not only between organisational actors but also individuals, require confronting, synthesising and eventually compromising across different perspectives which might arise from various ‘knowledges’.
Guiding questions include: a) Are key substantive and procedural issues being discussed? b) Is the evidence base underpinning the discourse broad and robust? c) Are the discussions leading to better mutual understanding of diverging viewpoints and their origins as well as better overall awareness and appreciation of available evidence?

Positioning and Orchestration

4.4. Modularity and flexibility
Legitimate and effective governance is founded on a careful combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ regulatory mechanisms. It allows for self-regulation and organisation, as well as external control and accountability structures (e.g. supervision), where the flexibility of governance arrangements should not lead to arbitrariness.
Guiding questions include: a) What is the existing mix of governance tools that influences the debate and decisions concerning the issue at stake? b) Do affected stakeholders regard this mix as appropriate? c) How difficult are they to implement and what could be done to support implementation? c) Are there enough financial resources, managerial capacity and appropriate organisational conditions in place to support their implementation jointly or independently? and e) Are they easily understood by the stakeholders involved?

4.5. Subsidiarity
Complementary to the self-governance and self-control expected to result from the alignment of mutual understanding of responsibility-related values and commitment, some level of hierarchical command-and-control may be necessary in certain circumstances. This should be performed mainly by independent actors. These must be capable of overseeing and enforcing, perhaps by applying a mix of soft and hard pressures such as requiring transparency about R&I governance practices, naming and shaming, sanctions, and accountability, where both bottom-up and top-down responsible research and innovation governance approaches should be balanced with and attuned to the specific situation. In this context, the ‘external’ authority should have a subsidiary (that is, a supporting, rather than a subordinate) function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate level.
Guiding questions involve: a) Are mechanisms of enforcement needed to support decision-making and compliance? If so, are they in place? b) Are there the immediate capabilities and technical know-how to implement them? and c) Are there the appropriate internal or external capacities to support or enforce agreements either ex-ante, during, or ex-post the decision-making, performance and outcomes resulting from R&I?

4.6. Adaptability
Governance towards responsibilisation should be able to reflect different historical developments of R&I systems and changing conditions. Therefore, such calibration requires an assessment of whether governance arrangements still effectively and legitimately serve responsibility goals. This must consider that the goals, costs and consequences of governance instruments and arrangements may also change over time.
Guiding questions include: a) Is the current understanding of the governance challenges still valid despite changes in the context and conditions? b) If the supporting assumptions and mechanisms fail, can we replace them without major problems and how? c) What (positive and negative) non-intended effects may result from their implementation? and d) How could they affect the current distribution of burdens and benefits among the stakeholders involved?

Developing Supportive Environments

4.7. Capabilities
Fostering responsibilisation crucially depends on reflexive individuals capable of recognising, anticipating, deliberating, communicating, and collectively pursuing societally desired processes and outcomes of R&I activities, and evaluating them. This process requires a certain level of ‘governance literacy,’ which is particularly important for the next generation of public and private researchers, programme and research managers, policymakers and members of civil society organisations, where learning and ‘un-learning’ new concepts via formal training, or practices for assessing ‘excellence’ involving responsibility-related values are determinant. The guiding questions are: a) Are there the necessary individual capabilities to achieve the intended goals related to responsibility-oriented processes and outcomes? b) If not, how can they be developed?

4.8. Capacities
For individual capabilities to unfold and express themselves, they need a supportive organisational and network infrastructure, such as access to information and resources for participation. This requires spaces for reflection, interaction and negotiation, appropriate incentive structures, and an open knowledge base. Similar to individual capabilities, systems’ capacities involve answering guiding questions such as: a) Are there the necessary systems’ capacities to achieve the intended goals related to responsibility-oriented processes and outcomes? b) If not, how can they be developed in a viable way?

4.9. Institutional entrepreneurship
Both capability and capacity-building are usually not self-organised activities. They require leadership, top-level and continuous support, vision and strategy, lobbying and rewarding institutional improvement in order to facilitate change towards responsibilisation. A key guiding question is: Are there credible leadership capabilities and institutional conditions in place for change agents to help transform the status quo?

4.10. Culture of transparency, tolerance and the rule of law
Only basic democratic principles such as the rule of law and freedom of speech will make responsibility-related governance effective and sustained over time. For this reason, the ability to make claims and to invoke legal or political means is a necessary condition for fostering responsibilisation in different organisational settings and arrangements. Enacting the aforementioned governance principles implies supporting individuals’ ability to think and act in a proactive way and under the rule of law. Actors should feel empowered by the appropriate organisational culture. A basic guiding question in this respect is: To what extent do the governance mechanisms reflect a commitment to democratic principles and allow actions under the rule of law?

5. The Res-AGorA Co-construction Method: How to design co-constructive workshops for RRI, engaging diverse stakeholders

Objective of the Res-AGorA RRI workshop design
The Res-AGorA consortium developed a workshop design that aims at facilitating and encouraging reflective processes between diverse and often opposing stakeholder groups. It is centered on the conceptualization and implementation of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in organisations and elsewhere. The workshop design offers a unique process for organisations which want to steer research-related decision-making processes towards more responsible research and innovation. It provides an open space for reflection without normatively predefining what ‘responsibility’ is. Rather, it is designed to “walk the talk”, making it possible for stakeholders to gain firsthand experience on how to possibly promote RRI in organisations and elsewhere.
The workshop design itself resulted from extensive deliberative co-construction work within the Res-AGorA team and has been tested in real life settings. Five two-day stakeholder workshops demonstrated a model for a governance framework for RRI while reflecting upon and further developing findings of Res-AGorA. This process evolved to have unique generic workshop qualities for stakeholder co-construction and reflection on responsible research and innovation, thus the Res-AGorA “Co-construction method” came about.
The workshop design merges default conceptual dimensions and principles of RRI with a rigorous bottom-up approach of bringing in stakeholders’ everyday experiences in implementing measures for the responsibilisation of research and innovation (R&I) processes. The dimensions and principles of RRI are based on in-depth theoretical deliberations and field investigations conducted within the Res-AGorA project. The conceptual and empirical insights were consolidated into a preliminary governance framework for RRI and comprised a set of principles and dimensions of RRI, illustrations, and questions to deliberate upon when striving to reach higher levels of responsibility. The series of workshops further developed the preliminary framework into the Responsibility Navigator. In the subsequent sections, the Responsibility Navigator constitutes the input for further possible workshops aiming at making research and innovation more responsible. It may be useful to supplement this with the manual for the Co-construction Method, as the detailed generic version of the workshop design has been made available on-line at
The workshop design offers a coherent process aligned with a governance framework for RRI, the Responsibility Navigator. It offers a unique combination of flow, input, reflection, iteration and discussion, that per se, walks the talk of “making RRI happen”. There are countless considerations underpinning this method and the carefully designed ways to approach stakeholders, to help them open up, to provide a serious space for reflection, and to bring forth invaluable knowledge into the enhancement and implementation process of RRI. The institutional settings in which it could be constructive to apply this design are characterized by actors who are directly concerned with R&I, such as funding institutions, universities, industry and companies conducting research, public administrations, international organisations and policy-makers concerned with developing research and innovation agendas. It is crucial to invite actors without research units and/or who are inactive in decision-making processes affecting R&I processes such as CSOs, international organisations, and industry associations into the workshop process as important stakeholders, though tackling their core issues in this particular workshop process is of less relevance for them.
It is equally important to underline the importance of the timing of the reflective process. The workshop process should take place prior to the production or implementation of new strategies or even as part of revising old plans for R&I. The workshop design process is in essence an instrument for upstream reflection on research and innovation.

Potential Impact:
During the course of more than three years of extensive theory-inspired empirical research and co-construction processes with key stakeholders in the field of research and innovation (R&I), the Res-AGorA project generated numerous insights and findings contributing to a better understanding of the conditions for RRI. Most importantly, the project developed an orientating governance framework – the Responsibility Navigator –, designed to support the identification, development and implementation of measures and procedures that can transform R&I in such a way that responsibility becomes an institutionalised ambition.
The development of this framework builds on three years of intensive empirical research comprising: an extensive programme of in-depth case-studies; systematic ‘scientometric’ literature analysis; country-level monitoring (RRI-Trends) and five broad-based co-construction stakeholder workshops.

Responsibility Navigator:
Res-AGorA developed a framework to guide the process of governing towards higher levels of responsibility in R&I, where the normative content is negotiated by the actors themselves as part of a continuous process of reflexive, anticipative and responsive adaptation of R&I to changing societal challenges. This orienting framework will help actors to understand their responsibility challenges and to design, negotiate and implement their own context-specific understanding of responsibility in R&I.
Res-AGorA has designed this framework, codified in the Responsibility Navigator, which was conceived as a means to provide orientation without normatively steering R&I in a pre-defined direction. It aims at making existing and new governance instruments and arrangements effective, reaching from bottom-up processes up to transformation at a systemic level. It is therefore expected that by adopting and adapting the Responsibility Navigator, R&I performed in Europe will become more satisfactorily aligned with societal needs and concerns.
Ten Res-AGorA principles have been identified to allow for responsibility-related governance.
The Responsibility Navigator is available as a brochure at: and on

The Co-construction Method:
In order to facilitate the practical use of the Responsibility Navigator, Res-AGorA developed a collaborative workshop methodology. This Co-construction Method encourages reflective processes between diverse and often opposing stakeholder groups. It is centered on the conceptualization and implementation of responsible R&I in organisations and elsewhere. The workshop design offers a unique process for organisations which want to steer research-related decision-making processes towards more responsible R&I. It provides an open space for reflection without normatively predefining what ‘responsibility’ is. Rather, it is designed to “walk the talk”, making it possible for stakeholders to gain firsthand experience on how to possibly promote responsible R&I.
The workshop design itself resulted from extensive deliberative co-construction work and has been thoroughly tested. For actors interested in using the Co-construction Method in their contexts, an easy-accessible manual is available online at:

Already prior to the finalization of the project, the consortium received encouraging feedback from potential users of the project outputs. Among the most tangible impacts is the fact that 3 EU-funded projects (H2020) are explicitly building on Res-AGorA’s legacy. Most importantly, many other stakeholders have expressed their interest in applying the Res-AGorA Responsibility Navigator in their organizations.

An overview of the project’s journey, its conceptual underpinnings and its main results is provided in a user-friendly and practitioner-oriented publication, avail-able at:

List of Websites:


Project coordinator:
Dr. Ralf Lindner
Competence Center Emerging Technologies
Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Breslauer Straße 48 | 76139 Karlsruhe | Germany
Phone +49 721 6809-292 | Fax +49 721 6809-315

Responsible for website:
Jørgen Madsen –