The Concepts, Approaches, and Applications of Responsible Innovation

An Introduction
  • Bert-Jaap KoopsEmail author


‘Responsible innovation’ is an increasingly popular term, but it is by no means clear what exactly this term refers to, nor how responsible innovation can or should be approached. This chapter provides an introduction to the landscape of responsible innovation, drawing from the contributions to this volume and an emerging body of literature. First, the concept of responsible innovation is explored: what does ‘responsible innovation’ refer to? The concept can be seen as an ideal, of incorporating social and ethical values or aspects in the innovation process, and as a project, a joint enterprise of an increasingly large community of people who want to bring us closer to this ideal. Next, approaches to responsible innovation are discussed: how can we go about innovating responsibly? While all approaches seem to have in common a key role for stakeholder engagement, one can distinguish two broad types of approaches to make innovation in a certain context more responsible. There is a product approach, characterised by a focus on developing some kind of output—a method, a framework, or guidelines; and a process approach, focused on developing some kind of procedure, usually with an element of self-learning. Subsequently, the current landscape of responsible innovation is briefly sketched: who is doing what in which areas? The chapter ends with explaining the structure of this edited volume and a brief tour through the chapters, which together provide a rich body of work that anticipates, reflects, deliberates, and responds to the challenges of responsible innovation.


Responsible research and innovation (RRI) Responsible innovation Definition Stakeholder engagement Reflexive learning Product approach Process approach 


  1. Ayres, I., and J. Braithwaite. 1995. Responsive regulation: transcending the deregulation debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bellantuono, G. 2012. Comparing Regulatory innovations for climate change: smart grids policies in the USA and the EU. SSRN eJournal,
  3. Bertolini, A. 2013. Robots as products: the case for a realistic analysis of robotic applications and liability rules. Law, Innovation and Technology 5: 214–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bijker, W.E., and J. Law (eds.). 1992. Shaping technology/building society. Studies in sociotechnical change. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Black, J., M. Lodge, and M. Thatcher, eds. 2005. Regulatory innovation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  6. Brownsword, R., and K. Yeung (eds.). 2008. Regulating technologies. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Cavoukian, A. 2010. Privacy by design: the definitive workshop. A foreword. Identity in the Information Society 3: 247–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collingridge, D. 1980. The social control of technology. London: Frances Pinter.Google Scholar
  9. European Commission. 2008. Commission Recommendation of 07/02/2008 on a code of conduct for responsible nanosciences and nanotechnologies research. Brussels, 7 February 2008, C(2008) 424final.Google Scholar
  10. European Commission. 2012. Proposal for a general data protection regulation. Brussels, 25.1.2012, COM(2012) 11 final.Google Scholar
  11. Fleurke, F.M., and Somsen, H. 2011. Precautionary regulation of chemical risk: How REACH confronts the regulatory challenges of scale, uncertainty, complexity and innovation. Common Market Law Review 48(2): 357–393.Google Scholar
  12. Friedman, B., ed. 1998. Human values and the design of computer technology. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fung, A., and E.O. Wright (eds.). 2003. Deepening democracy. Institutional innovations in empowered participatory governance. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  14. Koops, B.J. 2010. Ten dimensions of technology regulation. Finding your bearings in the research space of an emerging discipline. In Dimensions of technology regulation, eds M.E.A. Goodwin, B.J. Koops and R.E. Leenes, 309–324. Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Lessig, L. 1999. Code and other laws of cyberspace. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Matthias, A. 2007. Automaten als Träger von Rechten. Plädoyer für eine Gesetzänderung. PhD thesis, Humboldt University, Berlin.Google Scholar
  17. Owen, R., J. Bessant, and M. Heintz (eds.). 2013a. Responsible innovation. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Owen, R., J. Stilgoe, Ph Machaghten, M. Gorman, E. Fisher, and D. Guston. 2013b. A framework for responsible innovation. In Responsible innovation, ed. R. Owen, J. Bessant, and M. Heintz, 27–50. Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stahl, B.C., G. Eden, and M. Jirotka. 2013. Responsible research and innovation in information and communication technology: identifying and engaging with the ethical implications of ICTs. A framework for responsible innovation. In Responsible innovation, eds. R. Owen, J. Bessant, and M. Heintz, 199–218. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Thayyil, N. 2014. Biotechnology regulation and GMOs. Law, technology and public contestations in Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  21. Van Eindhoven, J.C.M. 1997. Technology assessment: product or process? Technological Forecasting and Social Change 54: 269–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Von Schomberg, R. 2011. Towards responsible research and innovation in the information and communication technologies and security technologies fields. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  23. Von Schomberg, R. 2013. A vision of responsible research and innovation. In Responsible innovation, ed. R. Owen, J. Bessant, and M. Heintz, 51–74. Chichester: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tilburg University, TILTTilburgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations