Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1719–1746 | Cite as

Devices of Responsibility: Over a Decade of Responsible Research and Innovation Initiatives for Nanotechnologies

  • Clare Shelley-EganEmail author
  • Diana M. Bowman
  • Douglas K. R. Robinson
Original Paper


Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has come to represent a change in the relationship between science, technology and society. With origins in the democratisation of science, and the inclusion of ethical and societal aspects in research and development activities, RRI offers a means of integrating society and the research and innovation communities. In this article, we frame RRI activities through the lens of layers of science and technology governance as a means of characterising the context in which the RRI activity is positioned and the goal of those actors promoting the RRI activities in shaping overall governance patterns. RRI began to emerge during a time of considerable deliberation about the societal and governance challenges around nanotechnology, in which stakeholders were looking for new ways of integrating notions of responsibility in nanotechnology research and development. For this reason, this article focuses on nanotechnology as the site for exploring the evolution and growth of RRI.


Nanoscience and nanotechnology Responsible research and innovation (RRI) Responsibility Governance 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clare Shelley-Egan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Diana M. Bowman
    • 3
  • Douglas K. R. Robinson
    • 4
  1. 1.Work Research Institute, Research Group on Responsible InnovationOsloNorway
  2. 2.Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway
  3. 3.Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, School for the Future of Innovation in SocietyArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  4. 4.Laboratory of Interdisciplinary Studies of Science, Innovation and Society (LISIS), CNRS UMR 9003Université Paris-Est Marne-la-ValléeParisFrance

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