Recommendations for Policy Makers
Based on the empirical insight gained through the survey and case studies, recommendations for different stakeholders about how to develop RRI-like practices while deriving a competitive advantage are provided below. First, recommendations for industry, which is the principal actor of competitive advantage at the micro level, are provided. These are followed by recommendations for the main actors of competitive advantage at the macro level: policymakers. Then, recommendations for supporting stakeholders that help to create the context in which RRI-like practices are developed are provided, with the aim of supporting their role in accompanying the principal actors in competitive advantage concerns, allowing for sustainable socio-economic development. These are recommendations for research performing organisations, research funding organisations, investors, civil society, and NGOs and association bodies.
Recommendations for Policy Makers
- Facilitate contextual factors
Contextual factors – that is, the background conditions under which companies must operate – were shown to be a very relevant factor in the development of a competitive advantage at the micro level, adding up to macro-economic performance. These factors could operate both as a driver, but also as a barrier. Policymakers may design regulations that promote RRI-like practices and reward companies that incorporate socio-ethical concerns in their research and innovation work; for example, including ethical stage-gates to access public funding or fostering participatory processes from a quadruple helix perspective. Domain-specific measures may also be adopted to facilitate engagement of the private sector in RRI-like practices, such as development of STEM education programmes for women, minorities or disadvantaged groups, which would increase access to diverse research and innovation teams in a strategic manner.
- Engage in participatory processes when regulating about controversial research and innovation processes
Emergent technologies often pose a challenge for policymakers, since they often evolve faster than the regulation cycle is designed for. In addition, several challenges are present;
(a) the inherent uncertainty of novel technologies
(b) the strength of public concern and reactions; and third, the need to incorporate techno-economic considerations in the regulation.
In order to balance these aspects and develop regulation that are neither too stringent for technological advances and competitive advantage, nor dismissive of public concerns, participatory processes that foster inter-stakeholder dialogue might be promoted. Such dialogues would inform policymakers about the state of development from the technological perspective, the economic outlook and the socio-ethical concerns; hence helping to develop regulations based on technical and social evidence that are well-adjusted to the implementation of the technology in the local context.
- Balance short-term and long-term development issues
When designing policy – particularly when it comes to emergent technologies – it is important to balance short-term, economic development goals, with long-term development issues. Principles of RRI and RRI-like practices in policymaking might help to do so, as stated above, through participatory processes. Anticipatory and reflective processes might also help to identify issues that might emerge in the long-term, hurting sustainable development. An example of this is the regulation of GMOs in Latin America & the Caribbean, which varies across countries, but aims to protect natural and cultural diversity – in line with the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols – while including short-term development considerations based on the wider development of the technology.