Convenors: Douglas K. R. Robinson, Mireille Matt and Jordi Molas-Gallart.
Session type: Full paper session.
Current policy discourse is increasingly attending to the need for research to address the “Grand Societal Challenges” (Cagnin, Amanatidou and Keenan, 2012) that we are facing. The recognition that addressing these challenges will often require profound systemic change has led to research and innovation policy strategies that explicitly seek such change. These transformative policies emphasize the interactions between demand and supply of research and innovation and the need to articulate shared future visions towards which these policies are oriented (Weber and Rohracher, 2012, Borras and Edler 2020). The ambitious and complex character of this approach have in turn led to policy formulations that are experimental in nature and seek to unlock the interactions between new policy experimentation and socio-technical system change (Schot and Steinmueller 2019).
However, the extent to which specific localized experiments, or wider policy interventions can contribute towards systemic change poses a difficult analytical and evaluative challenge. With transformation goals being postulated by a number research funding programmes, including Horizon Europe (Robinson et al. 2020), there is a growing need to develop support tools and approaches that can aid in the characterization, analysis and understanding of how research can contribute to the transformative change envisioned in grand societal challenges and missions.
Although many of the policy proposals that are currently being discussed focus on innovation processes, we argue that research must also be included in the debate on transformative change. The complex nature of grand societal challenges requires that new and diverse knowledge is continuously produced to fuel and drive solutions. Moreover, many of the potential solutions may be at very early stages of development, where knowledge about the pathways linking knowledge production and the implementation of applied solutions are highly uncertain. Thus, the world of research has to be well linked to the discourse on transformative change (Joly et al. 2019).
The main aim of the track is to discuss our understanding about the contribution of research activities to transformative societal impacts. We would like to open the debate and tackle the following issues:
This track calls for contributions that address one or more of these themes, or new ones in-line with the general thrust of the track.
Borrás, S., & Edler, J. (2020). The roles of the state in the governance of socio-technical systems’ transformation. Research Policy, 49(5), 103971.
Cagnin, C., Amanatidou, E. and Keenan, M. (2012) ‘Orienting european innovation systems towards grand challenges and the roles that FTA can play’, Science and Public Policy, 39(2), pp. 140–152. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scs014.
Joly, P.-B., Matt, M. and Robinson, D.K.R. (2019) Research Impact Assessment: From ex-post to real-time assessment. Journal for Research and Technology Policy Evaluation. Issue 47. March 2019
Robinson, D.K.R., Simone, A. and Mazzonetto, M. (2020) RRI legacies: co-creation for responsible, equitable and fair innovation in Horizon Europe, Journal of Responsible Innovation, DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2020.1842633
Schot, J. and Steinmueller, W. E. (2018) ‘Three frames for innovation policy: R&D, systems of innovation and transformative change’, Research Policy, 47(9), pp. 1554–1567. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.08.011.
Weber, K. M. and Rohracher, H. (2012) ‘Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change: Combining insights from innovation systems and multi-level perspective in a comprehensive “failures” framework’, Research Policy, 41(6), pp. 1037–1047. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.015.