Positioning and orchestration

8 Principle 5: Subsidiary

Complementary to the self-governance and self-control expected to result from aligning a mutual understanding of responsibil- ity-related values and commitment, some level of hierarchical command-and-control may be necessary in certain circum- stances. This should be performed mainly by independent actors. These must be capable of overseeing and enforcing, perhaps via a mix of soft and hard pressures such as requiring transparency about R&I governance practices, naming and shaming, sanctions, and accountability, where bottom-up and top-down RRI govern- ance approaches should be balanced with and attuned to the specific situation. In this context, the ‘external’ authority should have a subsidiary (that is, a supporting, rather than a subordi- nate) function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate level. Guiding questions involve: Are mechanisms of enforcement needed to support decision- making and compliance? If so, are they in place? Are there the immediate capabilities and technical know-how to implement them? Are there the appropriate internal or external capacities to sup- port or enforce agreements either ex-ante, during, or ex-post the decision-making, performance and outcomes resulting from R&I?

Example 5: A dialogue between European supra-national and global governance organisations on responsibility in research and innovation

A supra-national European organisa- less experience of implementing RRI.
tion has spent years developing an un- derstanding of RRI and mainstreaming it within its own science and innovation programmes. It approaches a global governance body, initiating a conversa- tion on how to standardise and up-scale this concept to the global level, uphold- ing three core tenets of RRI: participa- tive governance, orientation to societal challenges, and futures-oriented antic- ipation of technological development and the global political economy. This is welcomed, but in order to canvass a wider range of perspectives, the glob- al organisation initiates a consultation, seeking evidence from other countries around the world, supra-national region- al governance bodies, multi-national companies, and civil-society organisa- tions (CSOs) with cross-border and North-South remits. Evidence shows that RRI, as interpreted by the European su- pra-national body, has in fact originated from quite a concentrated cluster of na- tions and from its own ‘science in society’ legacy programmes. The leadership of these nations is acknowledged but, be- yond this limited cluster, other countries have a much lower awareness and still
These other countries vary considerably in economic, political, social and cultural terms, putting them at a disadvantage should the supra-national body seek to impose a common understanding of RRI. Multi-nationals and global CSOs give a mixed response. The standardisation of concepts is welcomed by some, but is resisted by others as a new form of im- position by strong nations. Rather than simply up-scaling a particular interpreta- tion of RRI, the global organisation pro- poses a 3-year initiative in which coun- tries and regions from across the globe (supra- and sub-national) exchange perspectives and knowledge of what it means to undertake research and inno- vation in a responsible way (principle 3: balancing bottom-up and top-down RRI governance approaches). This knowledge will be shared through the intermedia- tion of the global body, enabling nations and CSOs and business fora to learn from, adapt and translate the concept within their own contexts (principle 3: self-governance and self-control overseen by independent actors), whilst still ac- knowledging the three core tenets of RRI.