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Special Issue "Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem

SDU Innovation and Design Engineering, University of Southern Denmark, Alsion 2, 6400 Sønderborg, Denmark
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +4565509246
Interests: technology and innovation management; entrepreneurship; frugal and reverse innovation; sustainable innovation
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Bernd Stahl

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, School of Computer Science and Informatics, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +44 116 207 8252
Interests: ethics and technology; responsible research and innovation; critical research in information systems
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Doris Schroeder

Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: global justice; human rights; responsible research and innovation; research ethics
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Andre Martinuzzi

Institute for Managing Sustainability, University of Economics and Business, Vienna
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-1-31336-4698
Interests: corporate social responsibility; technology and innovation programs; science-policy interfaces; sustainability innovation
Guest Editor
Dr. Vincent Blok

Management Studies, Wageningen UR
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +31-(0)-317-483623
Interests: business ethics; responsible research and innovation; philosophy of management and economics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For several years Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has been widely discussed, especially in the European context, but also in academic conferences and publications. Numerous EU projects under the FP7 framework, as well as in the Horizon 2020 program, have been conducted, or are currently ongoing.

Despite this significant attention, the focus of RRI was mainly on publicly funded research and the generation of recommendations for policy. There was less attention on practical ways of implementing RRI in companies. Due to the importance of private businesses in undertaking research and in particular innovation, the RRI discourse should cover the role of industry more explicitly. A key question is how RRI relates to other activities that may be of ethical or social relevance, such as corporate social responsibility.

This Special Issue of Sustainability therefore offers a forum for dissemination and discussion of the relationship between RRI and industry. Our definition of industry is broad, including companies of all sizes and industries, including the service sector. We welcome conceptual, empirical or experimental results that are discussed in a national or international context.

Suggested topics for this Special Issue on RRI are (list not exhaustive):

  • RRI in Multinational Companies
  • RRI in Small and medium sized companies
  • RRI in start-ups
  • Industry-specific RRI implementation, e.g., healthcare, ICT, etc.
  • Linking policy and management levels of RRI
  • Engagement of RRI Stakeholders
  • RRI in an international context, e.g., Europe vs. US
  • RRI and Sustainability
  • RRI and Corporate Responsibility
  • Methodological aspects of RRI
  • Limitations and challenges of RRI

Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem
Prof. Dr. Bernd Stahl
Prof. Dr. Doris Schroeder
Prof. Dr. Andre Martinuzzi
Dr. Vincent Blok
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Responsible research and innovation
  • industry
  • value chain
  • corporate social responsibility
  • methodology of RRI

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Responsible Research and Innovation in Industry—Challenges, Insights and Perspectives
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030702
Received: 24 February 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 27 February 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (230 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The responsibility of industry towards society and the environment is a much discussed topic, both in academia and in business. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has recently emerged as a new concept with the potential to advance this discourse in light of two
[...] Read more.
The responsibility of industry towards society and the environment is a much discussed topic, both in academia and in business. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has recently emerged as a new concept with the potential to advance this discourse in light of two major challenges industry is facing today. The first relates to the accelerating race to innovate in order to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world. The second concerns the need to maintain public trust in industry through innovations that generate social value in addition to economic returns. This Special Issue provides empirical and conceptual contributions that explore corporate motivations to adopt RRI, the state of implementation of concrete RRI practices, the role of stakeholders in responsible innovation processes, as well as drivers and barriers to the further diffusion of RRI in industry. Overall, these contributions highlight the relevance of RRI for firms of different sizes and sectors. They also provide insights and suggestions for managers, policymakers and researchers wishing to engage with responsibility in innovation. This editorial summarizes the most pertinent conclusions across the individual articles published in this Special Issue and concludes by outlining some fruitful avenues for future research in this space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation Practices in SMEs: Insights into Drivers and Barriers from the Austrian Medical Device Sector
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010017
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 22 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (263 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper addresses the question of how Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can be implemented in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It builds on existing knowledge about RRI in business as well as on insights into motivations, drivers and barriers from the related
[...] Read more.
This paper addresses the question of how Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) can be implemented in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It builds on existing knowledge about RRI in business as well as on insights into motivations, drivers and barriers from the related fields of eco-innovation and sustainability innovation. Expert interviews with CEOs of SMEs in the Austrian medical device sector are analyzed to develop insights into the companies’ research and innovation activities and potential drivers and barriers for RRI. The findings support the assumption that SMEs are largely unaware of the RRI concept. At the same time, however, it is possible to identify current practices that already operationalize aspects of RRI. It is argued that SMEs could build upon existing practices to further develop ways of being responsible and that implementation of RRI should be in line with specific organizational and contextual factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
Open AccessArticle Responsibility versus Profit: The Motives of Food Firms for Healthy Product Innovation
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2286; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122286
Received: 30 October 2017 / Revised: 29 November 2017 / Accepted: 5 December 2017 / Published: 8 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (919 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: In responsible research and innovation (RRI), innovation is seen as a way in which humankind finds solutions for societal issues. However, studies on commercial innovation show that firms respond in a different manner and at a different speed to the same societal
[...] Read more.
Background: In responsible research and innovation (RRI), innovation is seen as a way in which humankind finds solutions for societal issues. However, studies on commercial innovation show that firms respond in a different manner and at a different speed to the same societal issue. This study investigates what role organizational motives play in the product innovation processes of firms when aiming for socially responsible outcomes. Methods: This multiple-case study investigates the motives of food firms for healthier product innovation by interviewing firms about the organizational motives behind product reformulation and innovation. Results: This study highlights the importance of having both instrumental and moral motives in the innovation process when aiming for socially responsible outcomes, and how both these motives interact and contribute to responsible innovation in industry. Furthermore, the study results question the nature of relational motives as a separate category from the other two categories of motives, as suggested by corporate social responsibility (CSR) scholars. Conclusions: If commercial innovation needs to contribute to solutions for societal issues, the importance of moral motives has to be stressed without annihilating the instrumental objectives of firms. Both motives contribute to the success factors of responsible product innovation in industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessArticle Company Strategies for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI): A Conceptual Model
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2045; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9112045
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (532 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has become an important topic in the academic community and in policy circles, but it has not yet been systematically included in the innovation process of companies. We discuss how companies can integrate RRI into their corporate social
[...] Read more.
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has become an important topic in the academic community and in policy circles, but it has not yet been systematically included in the innovation process of companies. We discuss how companies can integrate RRI into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and business strategy. To this end, we developed a conceptual model that links a company’s RRI strategy to its context, and that helps to translate the RRI strategy into activities that result in RRI outcomes. We also propose a process for developing company-specific RRI key performance indicators (KPIs) that can support companies to measure RRI outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessArticle Implementation of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Practices in Industry: Providing the Right Incentives
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101759
Received: 1 July 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (969 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Abstract: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used by policy-makers and academics to refer to research and innovation that is ethically acceptable and socially desirable. Despite the fact that the vast majority of research and innovation (R&I) is funded and
[...] Read more.
Abstract: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used by policy-makers and academics to refer to research and innovation that is ethically acceptable and socially desirable. Despite the fact that the vast majority of research and innovation (R&I) is funded and produced by industry, companies tend to have no awareness or recognition of this concept. This is unfortunate, as the RRI paradigm could be mutually beneficial for both business and society: it could help businesses realise competitive opportunities while also leading to positive economic, societal and environmental impacts. This paper investigates how industry can be incentivised to engage in research and innovation following the approach of RRI. We propose a matrix of incentives for stimulating the adoption of RRI. We categorise incentives according to three dichotomies: external and internal, instrumental and non-instrumental, direct and indirect. The incentives are formalised in a causal loop diagram, which can be used to demonstrate the sound character of investing in RRI from a business perspective. We discuss examples of incentives, including corporate reputation and critical consumerism, certification, employee engagement, and governance. Lastly, to ensure effective implementation of RRI, we outline factors for the realisation of successful incentives for RRI in industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessCommunication Responsible Innovation: A Complementary View from Industry with Proposals for Bridging Different Perspectives
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1719; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101719
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 15 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (438 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents a consensus view on Responsible Innovation by a group of industry practitioners, each with high level management experience in driving innovation from within industrial companies operating in different sectors. The authors argue that, while a substantial body of academic research
[...] Read more.
This paper presents a consensus view on Responsible Innovation by a group of industry practitioners, each with high level management experience in driving innovation from within industrial companies operating in different sectors. The authors argue that, while a substantial body of academic research on Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) of potential interest now exists, it is failing to have impact in the industrial community, where it is understood to be partially targeted, because many of the concepts, tools and methodologies are not aligned with current industrial practices. This is leading to a misconception as to where industry stands on topics addressed by RRI and difficulties in forwarding a dialogue that is meaningful to both parties. The need to distinguish between processes relating to research and innovation is argued, together with the view that research into RRI should encompass more of the on-going work being carried out in related fields such as the role of companies in society, the debate around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Shared Value (CSV), responsible digital innovation, the elements of ethical leadership, sustainable investment policies and work on establishing social impact factors as well as public concerns on innovation. Directions for an alignment of the terminology and concepts are also proposed. This paper is to be viewed as an attempt at bridging perspectives with the aim of finding common ground to develop the field of RRI further so that it provides effective concepts, tools and methodologies to guide industrial innovation towards better societal outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessArticle An Investigation into Risk Perception in the ICT Industry as a Core Component of Responsible Research and Innovation
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1424; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9081424
Received: 15 June 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 8 August 2017 / Published: 11 August 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2781 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper makes an original contribution to the responsible research and innovation (RRI) discourse, with an inquiry into the extent to which risk, risk assessment, or risk management, including ethical and social issues, is relevant to companies. As a core component of the
[...] Read more.
This paper makes an original contribution to the responsible research and innovation (RRI) discourse, with an inquiry into the extent to which risk, risk assessment, or risk management, including ethical and social issues, is relevant to companies. As a core component of the higher or “meta-responsibility” of RRI, an investigation of practices and attitudes towards risks can provide us with a window into companies’ attitudes towards responsible innovation that is rooted in real-world experiences. Drawing upon data from 30 in-depth interviews and a large Delphi study, we reveal different underlying attitudes towards risk governance for individuals working in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. For some companies, there is already an obvious degree of alignment with RRI values. For others, framing of the RRI discourse in terms of ethical and societal risks may help to promote understanding and uptake. Results from the interviews suggest that lack of awareness of the full extent of ethical and societal risks associated with research and innovation in the ICT industry may act as a barrier to engagement with RRI, and educational activities may be needed to rectify this situation. Results from the Delphi survey suggest that when presented with simple information about potential ethical and societal risks, industry personnel can easily recognise the main risks and provide clear opinions about how they should be addressed. The relationship between risk governance and RRI warrants further investigation as it is an essential facet of RRI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessArticle The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Maturity Model: Linking Theory and Practice
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9061036
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 8 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (541 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an approach to research and innovation governance aiming to ensure that research purpose, process and outcomes are acceptable, sustainable and even desirable. In order to achieve this ambitious aim, RRI must be relevant to research and innovation
[...] Read more.
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an approach to research and innovation governance aiming to ensure that research purpose, process and outcomes are acceptable, sustainable and even desirable. In order to achieve this ambitious aim, RRI must be relevant to research and innovation in industry. In this paper, we discuss a way of understanding and representing RRI that resonates with private companies and lends itself to practical implementation and action. We propose the development of an RRI maturity model in the tradition of other well-established maturity models, linked with a corporate research and development (R&D) process. The foundations of this model lie in the discourse surrounding RRI and selected maturity models from other domains as well as the results of extensive empirical investigation. The model was tested in three industry environments and insights from these case studies show the model to be viable and useful in corporate innovation processes. With this approach, we aim to inspire further research and evaluation of the proposed maturity model as a tool for facilitating the integration of RRI in corporate management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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Open AccessArticle Innovating Responsibly in ICT for Ageing: Drivers, Obstacles and Implementation
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 971; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9060971
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 1 June 2017 / Published: 7 June 2017
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (274 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is a nascent concept, promoted actively by the European Union and other policy makers around the world. Hitherto, this concept has been associated primarily with publicly funded activities but given the considerable proportion of research and innovation that
[...] Read more.
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is a nascent concept, promoted actively by the European Union and other policy makers around the world. Hitherto, this concept has been associated primarily with publicly funded activities but given the considerable proportion of research and innovation that is undertaken in the private sector, RRI will be rendered irrelevant unless it is adopted by industry. This paper introduces a private sector perspective of RRI, specifically that of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, working in the field of healthy ageing. Drawing upon empirical data from 30 in-depth interviews with key industry representatives from across Europe, it explores: (a) the level of awareness of RRI; (b) the drivers and obstacles influencing its implementation; and (c) the factors deemed vital for facilitation of RRI in industry. The findings paint a varied picture, including significant concerns about adoption of RRI in an industry environment where the economic implications of all activities must be considered carefully. However, some companies have found their own ways to balance financial and altruistic goals, suggesting that there is both a willingness and a place for an RRI-type governance framework within the private sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)

Review

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Open AccessReview Lessons for Responsible Innovation in the Business Context: A Systematic Literature Review of Responsible, Social and Sustainable Innovation Practices
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050721
Received: 7 February 2017 / Revised: 23 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 April 2017 / Published: 5 May 2017
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (753 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing conceptual debate on responsible innovation, and provides innovation practices and processes that can help to implement responsible innovation in the business context. Based on a systematic literature review of 72 empirical scholarly articles, it was
[...] Read more.
This paper aims to contribute to the ongoing conceptual debate on responsible innovation, and provides innovation practices and processes that can help to implement responsible innovation in the business context. Based on a systematic literature review of 72 empirical scholarly articles, it was possible to identify, analyse and synthesise empirical findings reported in studies on social, sustainable and responsible innovation practices in the business context. The synthesis of the included articles resulted in a refined framework for responsible innovation in the business context. This framework includes an overview of innovation practices and processes that can enhance the dimensions of responsible innovation: anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion, deliberation, responsiveness and knowledge management. Additionally, knowledge gaps are identified and a research agenda for responsible innovation is proposed. This review can therefore serve as a next step in the theoretical and practical development of responsible innovation in general, and in the business context in particular. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Industry)
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