Questioning the Normative Core of RI: The Challenges Posed to Stakeholder Engagement in a Corporate Setting
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Responsible Innovation (RI) is a normative conception of technology development, which hopes to improve upon prevailing practices. One of its key principles is the active involvement of a broad range of stakeholders in deliberations in order to better embed innovations in society. In this paper, we examine the applicability of this principle in corporate settings and in smaller scale technological projects. We do so in the context of a case study focused on an innovation project of a start-up organisation with social aspirations. We describe our failed attempts to introduce RI-inspired stakeholder engagement approaches and articulate the ‘reasonable reasons’ why the organisation rejected these approaches. We then examine the methods that the organisation adopted to be responsive to various stakeholders’ needs and values. Based on our analysis, we argue that there is a need for the field of RI to explore additional and alternative ways to address issues of stakeholder commitment and inclusion, in order to make RI’s deliberative ideals more applicable to the rapid, fluid, partial, and provisional style of deliberation and decision making that we found in corporate contexts.
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