Ensuring quality of interaction

7 Principle 2: Moderation

Organisational modes appropriate to build trust, collect data and organise dialogue are needed in the form of ‘fora'. These are institutionalised places or procedures for interaction, and for ‘bridging’ different perspectives between contesting actors, after which some alignment of goals and procedures is expected. Guiding questions include: Are moderation mechanisms being put in place that allow the build-up of trust, and a broad exchange of arguments and evi- dence? Do all the actors involved and affected accept these mechanisms; are they perceived as legitimate?

Example 2: Moderated discourse to rebalance national research funding profiles

As a matter of high political priority, the government of a small European country is reconsidering the balance of research funding between calls for research ac- tivities directed through thematic pro- grammes / grand challenges, and those without thematic prioritisation. The Sci- ence and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) is tasked with implementing a forward-looking process to realise this. STAC is composed of representatives of all major political parties, employers’ and employees’ organisations, civil soci- ety organisations and consumer groups, and scientists representing different disciplines (including social scientists), aiming for a balanced representation of organisation type, level of seniority, and gender (principle 2: initial moderation through neutral actors without operation- al budgets and a representation of major vested interest). A Task Force (TF) is estab- lished, representing a wide diversity of societal groups and perspectives, giving each member time to design and imple- ment a systematic and open process of evidence gathering (background reports, international hearings etc.). The TF ap- points an independent figure to draft a report which outlines different models
of, and the pros and cons for, thematic prioritising in research funding based on evidence from a number of comparable innovation systems. The process sep- arates the decision about the share of thematic prioritising in research funding from the choice of themes (principle 2: building trust in the process as the basic de- cision is taken without focusing on specific areas, providing robust data). In response to the report, STAC asks for Parliament (through two committee meetings with open inclusive hearings) for an online consultation, the results of which are detailed in an Annex to the TF report (principle 2: moderation iterates between advisory context and political context, com- bining different sources of legitimacy). On STAC’s recommendation, core funding is reduced and funding in competitive and thematically-defined areas is in- creased, followed up by a well-received, challenge-oriented foresight process to support a further transparent dialogue to frame, define, and prioritise the defi- nition of ‘challenge’ areas, based on a similar model of neutral moderation.