Responsible Innovation (RI) in the midst of an innovation crisisNo II (2020)
Second Issue, 2020
Responsible Innovation (RI) in the midst of an innovation crisis
Lucien von Schomberg, University of Greenwich (United Kingdom)
Vincent Blok, Wageningen University (Netherlands)
The concept of Responsible Innovation (RI) occupies a central place in the discourse on science and technology, especially in the context of the European Union (EU) but also within academia. This concept is guided by the idea of steering science and technology towards societally desirable outcomes, particularly in response to normative objectives such as Sustainable Development Goals (von Schomberg, 2019). Visions of RI typically propose that to innovate responsibly requires a permanent commitment to be anticipatory, reflective, inclusively deliberative, and responsive (Owen et al., 2012). They also emphasize the need for open access, gender equality, science education, ethical standard in conducting experiments, and democratic governance (European Commission, 2020).
However, the societal purpose of RI fundamentally conflicts with the imperative of maximizing economic growth inherent in today’s innovation climate (von Schomberg, 2022). This conflict points to a crisis in which innovation struggles to serve public interests insofar private interests continue to be prioritized. The magnitude of this crisis is also reflected within the RI literature itself, where the political ambition to exceed the privatization wave is summoned to a techno-economic concept of innovation (von Schomberg & Blok, 2019). This issue of NOvation – Critical Studies of Innovation brings into question to what extent innovation necessarily relates to the market, whether it is possible to develop an alternative concept of innovation that is separated from economic ends, and how we can conceptualize, for example, a political understanding of innovation. What really is innovation? While all seven contributions share the aspiration to critically reflect on these questions, they each offer a distinct and original perspective in discussing the relation between innovation, technology, politics, economics, and responsibility.
X‐innovation: Re‐inventing Innovation Again and AgainNo I (2019)First Issue, 2019
X-Innovation: Re-Inventing Innovation Again and Again
Gérald Gaglio, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (France)
Benoît Godin, INRS, Montreal (Canada)Sebastian Pfotenhauer, Technische Universität München (Germany)
Innovation is an old word, of Greek origin, that came into the Latin vocabulary in the early Middle Age and into our everyday vocabulary with the Reformation. However, it is only during the second half of the twentieth century that innovation became a fashionable concept and turned into a buzzword. It gave rise to a plethora of terms like technological innovation, organizational innovation, industrial innovation and, more recently, social innovation, open innovation, sustainable innovation, responsible innovation. We may call these terms X-innovation.
In this way, X-innovation is the latest step to give sense to a century-old process of enlargement of the concept of innovation. Over the last five centuries, innovation enlarged its meaning from the religious to the political to the social to the economical. X-innovation is the more recent such enlargement. It Is the continuation, under new terms, of the contestation of technological innovation as the dominant discourse of the twentieth century.
How can we make sense of this semantic extension? Why do these terms come into being? What drives people to coin new terms? What effects do the terms have on thought, on culture and scholarship and on policy and politics? Which forms of contestation and appropriation ensue around certain X-innovations? How do they shape, and are shaped by, broader social trends? How to they relate to questions of power and inclusion?