Enhancing the responsiveness of science and innovation programs to societal values is a critical element of responsible innovation. Distinct from laboratory-level research into socio-technical integration, this paper focuses on integration and responsiveness at the level of research priority setting. Taking the case of nanotechnology, it evaluates decision-making in the USA and the UK in the wake of novel policy initiatives for societal research and engagement. It asks to what extent decision-makers explicitly reflected upon societal considerations during priority setting and allocation. Interviews with key decision-makers and staff reveal limited integration of societal actors and considerations during research prioritization. In response to a pervasive history of institutional practices that preclude socio-technical integration, and in contrast to concerns that such considerations may slow down R&D, we propose that building responsiveness into research prioritization can support productivity, contribute to more socially robust outcomes, and possibly even enhance national competitiveness.
- Research priority setting
- Responsible innovation
- Socio-technical integration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Public Administration
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law