Developing supportive environments

8 Principle 7: Capabilities

Fostering responsibilisation crucially depends on reflexive individuals capable of recognising, anticipating, deliberating, communicating, and collectively pursuing societally desired processes and outcomes of R&I activities, and evaluating them. This process requires a certain level of ‘governance lit- eracy,’ which is particularly important for the next generation of public and private researchers, programme and research managers, policy-makers and members of civil society organ- isations, where learning and ‘un-learning’ new concepts via formal training, or practices for assessing ‘excellence’ involv- ing responsibility-related values are determinant. The guiding questions are: Are there the necessary individual capabilities to achieve the intended goals related to responsibility-oriented processes and outcomes? If not, how can they be developed?

Example 7: Creating the conditions and processes needed to create a new generation of RRI-conscious researchers

A research funding organisation seeks to enable greater reflexivity and antici- patory awareness of issues of societal concern in the community it funds. It has long adopted a formal framework that guides its programme design as well as its funding application and approval processes. Relying on formal principles in project proposals has resulted in RRI becoming yet another tick box exercise. The organisation thus starts to focus on building the capabilities and aware- ness of its researchers, starting with the young generation of researchers and their employing organisations. Now, all funding applications have to show how they propose to accommodate specific challenges such as risks, ethical concerns, and further societal challenges (by incor- porating participation / engagement, for example). All proposals are required to allocate part of the budget and research time to issues of interaction and aware- ness-building beyond traditional ‘impact’ considerations. In addition, to be eligi- ble, proposals must demonstrate how the supporting organisation will enable researchers to identify, plan and imple- ment an action plan to deliver an RRI portfolio (see principle 8: capacity; and
principle 5: modularity, soft and hard instruments). Importantly, the funding organisation also conducts a series of three-day workshops for the young lead- ers of funded projects across the country. Principal Investigators (responsible for line managing the early career research- er) are expected to participate in such a workshop early in the project. This not only involves teaching general principles and guidelines, but also a collective criti- cal reflection of responsibility challenges and ways to deal with them. Each PI is required to draft a responsibility report two months after the workshop, signed off by their own line manager, commit- ting the host organisation to supporting the early career researchers, recognis- ing the additional work and resources necessary to implement personalised RRI plans. The early career researchers receive progressive certificates of com- petency in RRI, and build credits towards a new vocational qualification in Respon- sible Innovation, which is becoming in- creasingly recognised by employers. As a result, the system builds a more reflex- ively aware, questioning, and therefore bench-effective, RRI-literate workforce.