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Reflexive Governance for Research and Innovative Knowledge by Marc Maesschalck

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Introduction

“… to make use of data collected in the course of a preexisting practice, that practice must be translated into conceptual terms; theory must guide practice, not the other way around” [CAN 88, p. 110].

The theories of governance developed over the last 20 years provide us with a new framework for considering the collective conditions of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in conjunction with the political challenges of a society in transition in all of its regulatory aspects, including security, financial and environmental elements. However, governance falls short of the ideals established through reflections on RRI. Approaches in terms of governance theory remain marginal, and its fundamental aspects are poorly understood in the context of research work and recommendations on the subject. The functional aspects of decision implementation involved in governance are at play here, but not the critical fundamental approach that focuses on changing practices and reconstructing both roles and identities of action. We are faced with a paradox: relevant reflections on the governance of RRI, or even on governance as one of the pillars of RRI, are entirely satisfactory in functional terms; however, the connection between an approach constructed using a theory of governance of RRI and a shift in existing practice is lacking. This situation is all the more regrettable given the emergence of a reflexive governance model within the context of scientific debate in recent ...

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