Ensuring quality of interaction

7 Principle 3: Deliberation

Sense-making and decision-making among actors with dif- ferent knowledge claims and positions, not only between or- ganisational actors but also individuals, require confronting, synthesising and eventually compromising across different perspectives which might arise from various ‘knowledges’. Guiding questions include: Are key substantive and procedural issues being discussed? Is the evidence base underpinning the discourse broad and ro- bust? Are the discussions leading to better mutual understanding of diverging viewpoints and their origins as well as better overall awareness and appreciation of available evidence?

Example 3: Organising a co-constructive deliberation process on responsible innovation

A team from nine universities and re- search institutes wins a competitive European research grant to develop a framework for fostering RRI. A co-con- struction deliberative methodology is adopted, involving representatives of rel- evant organisations (academics, research funding councils, research performing organisations, small businesses and multi-national corporations, utilities, lo- cal and national governments, CSOs, and known individuals with a commitment to and expertise in Science and Society dialogues) (principle 2: sense-making and decision-making among actors with differ- ent knowledge claims and positions). Five two-day stakeholder workshops are held in different European cities with approx. 80 participants in total. The workshops are themed to test the prototype frame- work in different contexts. The first two focus on technology controversies – en- ergy, climate change and shale gas frack- ing; and the genetic modification of food. The third and fourth look at problems of responsibility in R&I from the perspec- tive of research-funding and -providing organisations, respectively; the final workshop of participants with a spread of backgrounds and functions focuses
on strategic actors. The workshops use techniques to maximise opportunities for participants to actively engage in the process (principle 3: opening up for mutual understanding); although team members are present at the workshops, they influ- ence the deliberation as little as possible, with the primary aim of listening in order to understand the real-life working con- texts of participants and their percep- tions of the prototype framework. The deliberation process is supported by a fully transparent empirical knowledge base, generated by the research team over two years. The process of co-con- structive deliberation is realised through a comprehensive multi-disciplinary and multiple-stakeholder process of criti- cal reflection. The result is a stabilised framework of ten key governance princi- ples, communicated in a style sensitised to practitioner audiences (principle 3: discussions lead to some level of consen- sus). The principles are supported by fic- tive case vignettes based on the team's empirical research. The final framework becomes a tool to support self-reflection and the strategic action of practitioners – user-friendly and integrating participants’ recommendations.