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Working responsibly across boundaries?: some practical and theoretical lessons

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Abstract

This chapter examines some of the tensions between the ideals and the operationalization of responsible research and innovation (RRI). We are interested in those kinds of integrations that take place as social scientists, humanities and legal scholars seek closer collaborations with scientists, innovators, engineers, industrialists and policy-makers. Our aim is to address some aspects of what actually happens, as collaborations are worked out (or not) across boundaries, including some of the frictions and problems that arise in practice and theory. We propose a concept of epistemic networks to describe and articulate contemporary networked-based problem-solving to innovate and address societal issues. Situated within the broader horizon of an empirical investigation into integration of assessments in digital and smart technology domains, we recount three (practical and theoretical) lessons for RRI. Our lessons stem from three persistent problems: The framing of research questions, interdisciplinarity in practice and the role of law in interdisciplinary collaborations. We argue that such problems, being simultaneously epistemic and normative, should not be seen as mere obstacles to be done away with in order for innovation to run its course. Instead, they are pointers towards critical sites and sources for the deepening of RRI in theory and in practice. © René von Schomberg and Jonathan Hankins 2019. All rights reserved.