Research and Innovation Processes revisited - Networked Responsibility in Industry




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Peer reviewed



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how relationships between different actors are being shaped, in order to allow industry to come to acceptable and desirable uses of Research and Innovation (R&I) that address societal challenges. Design/methodology/approach – Building on existing notions of responsibility proposed in the literature, the paper develops a theoretical account of “networks of responsibility” which capture the interlinked nature of responsibility relationships. The usefulness of the approach is evaluated by exploring two cases of R&I in industry deploying a qualitative research approach that involves interviewing and document analysis. For this, a multinational company from Germany was involved, as well as a small and medium-sized company from Denmark. Findings – The study surfaced 68 responsibility relationships involving a range of different objects, subjects, authorities, and norms. By describing overlaps in objects, subjects, and other aspects across relationships, the theoretical model proved adequate in untangling and displaying interrelatedness of responsibilities. Furthermore, the analysis surfaced characteristics of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) that are already in place in the R&I processes of two innovative companies, such as anticipation, foresight, and stakeholder engagement. Not all aspects of responsibility outlined in the theoretical model could be extracted from the interview data for every responsibility relationship, pointing to the need for further research. Originality/value – The paper offers a novel theoretical approach to understanding and analysing responsibility allocations in R&I in industry. It demonstrates the reliability of this theoretical position empirically. It is practically important because it supports policy development on an organisational as well as societal level.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI),, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), responsibility, social desirability, innovation process


Timmermans, J., Yaghmaei, E., Stahl, B. and Brem, A. (2017) Research and Innovation Processes revisited - Networked Responsibility in Industry. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8 (3), pp. 307-334


Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)