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Reflexive Governance for Research and Innovative Knowledge by Marc Maesschalck

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Conclusion

What can we hope to gain by applying a governance theory approach to the domain of responsible research and innovation (RRI)? This is the question that has guided our work in this volume. It has led us to confront issues as fundamental as those of the fragmentation of knowledge between academic disciplines, as well as between theory and practice, lab work and field work. Such a question also raises issues of sharing power between experts and engaged actors or between spokespeople and independent observers, and building a community of destiny where scientists and civil societies, governments and populations, entrepreneurs and local groups may move beyond entrenched identities in order to reconstruct the possibility of a common world.

While we have contended that governance theory is crucial for such a project, it is important to insist that this is not for epistemological sophistication or in order to make things unnecessarily complicated. Faced with issues requiring practical solutions and concrete references, the urgency of the situation might seem to call for approximate theoretical combinations and ready-to-use solutions. The refusal or even fear of turning to such a theory is in fact a concealed compliance with the status quo, since the first fundamental question of governance, as an economist like North [NOR 90] clearly saw, is that of the nature of the social and institutional change. To tackle such an issue, it is not enough to send out mandates to existing ...

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