Robin Williams (The University of Edinburgh)
Harro van Lente (Maastricht University)
Arie Rip (University of Twente)
Mario Biagioli (UC Davis)
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- Sociotechnical innovation
- C. Humanisticum AB 3.11
- Thursday 18 September, 9:30-11:15, 11:30-13:15, 15:00-16:45, 17:00-18:45 (UTC+0)
This panel examines the diverging presumptions and methods of the linked fields of Science and Technology Studies and Innovation Studies. We invite contributions examining how we may draw upon these and related traditions to produce more robust understandings of technoscientific issues.
A broader view and analysis of the dynamics of innovation in society is necessary. To meet this challenge we need to draw upon and exploit synergies between the linked traditions of Science & Technology Studies (STS) and Innovation Studies (IS).
Despite their partially overlapping intellectual roots and shared concern to understand the processes and outcomes of scientific and technological development, the broad fields of STS and IS have tended to diverge as they have grown and become more established. Differences in style, methodology, theoretical generalisation and strategies to speak to policy bring particular strengths and weaknesses. While STS is often content just to show complexities and instabilities, IS tends to aggregate and blackbox innovation processes. Clearly, there are complementarities between these two fields to exploit to mutual advantage.
This track is organised by the newly-formed International Network of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. We invite contributions which draw upon both traditions and demonstrate the potential of productive interactions. Epistemologically: How have these fields developed? What are their de facto research agendas (what commonalities, tensions, gaps)? How and why have they diverged? What are the challenges (risks/benefits) of combining approaches? Substantively: How have these different traditions effectively been integrated in producing more robust understandings in emerging analyses of issues such as: the role of anticipation and foresight; infrastructures; the role of users in innovation; broadening conceptions of innovation; the constitution of markets and innovation systems; the spatiality of innovation. The emphasis is on mutual criticism and the possibilities of cross-breeding.
papers will be presented in the order shown and grouped 3-4-4-2 between sessions
Author:Arie Rip (University of Twente)
Paper long abstract:
A number of important issues in science and innovation policy, like 'Big Science' (from late 1950s onwards), ‘Key Technologies’ and now ‘Grand Challenges’ and 'Responsible Research and Innovation', have also the trappings of a fashion, including the use of a few words to capture the thrust and allowing it to travel. Reconstructing the dynamics of such fashions goes further traditional science policy studies and innovation (policy) studies. An important further question is what remains, after the fashion has passed: fashions leave traces, also in terms of institutional arrangements. I will analyse a few cases, and on that basis offer an understanding of de facto science and innovation policy.
Authors:Athena Piterou (University of Greenwich)
Fred Steward (University of Westminster)
Paper long abstract:
STS is a relatively small, interdisciplinary field of study which is linked to a diverse number of sub (disciplines) such as history and philosophy of science, sociology and management. Innovation studies (IS) are also perceived as an academic field rather than as a distinct discipline. Both STS and IS have not reached the level of institutionalisation and consensus more commonly associated with established disciplines. The interdisciplinary nature of both STS and IS are fundamental to understanding their development. Although both fields address common questions, they have largely developed independently as indicated by citation analysis of the core texts in each field (Bhupatiraju et al., 2012).
The abstracts of EASST conference papers over a 30-year period (1983-2012) provide the data to examine the cognitive interaction between STS and IS. Although conferences have been rather neglected in scientometrics studies, they act as "field configuring events" that help to demarcate the boundaries of academic fields and the development of "invisible colleges" as networks of informal communication among scholars with shared research interests. Conference data can be used to analyse the cognitive, social and institutional dimensions of academic fields, however, this paper focuses on the cognitive dimension. Content and co-word analysis are applied to the titles of the EASST conference papers to identify the relative popularity of IS related terminology over time. The resulting co-word networks, which place terms in context, demonstrate the co-evolution of theoretical approaches and empirical areas of application for STS and IS.
Authors:Sampsa Hyysalo (Aalto University)
Svetlana Usenyuk-Kravchuk (Ural State University of Architecture and Art)
Paper long abstract:
In arctic Russia people regularly ride "karakats", ecologically sound all terrain vehicles that float on thin ice, water and permafrost on their "balloon tires" and light chassis. Each of these machines appears different. Through our biographies of technologies and practices study (Hyysalo, 2010), it turned out it was users who have invented, modified, diversified and iterated this technology, as well as continued to self-build and self-maintain it. Karakats have half a century of history, hundreds of design variants. Manufacturers serve small subsection of the substantial market, albeit created new markets based on karakat principles. For S&TS, the study reveals how "innofusion" (fleck 1988; Williams et al. 2005) can take place in a dispersed manner and how interaction arenas among peers can be turned into formidable knowledge infrastructures. In innovation studies assumption has been that manufacturers will supplant innovating users if the innovation is valuable to many. Karakats' extended era and wide domain of user dominance challenges this view, moreover as this technology is not digital or coordinated open design. To us concepts from both traditions help make sense of the phenomena and to reinstate their mutual relevance. The resulting line of argumentation, based on combinatory effect of previously known dynamics on users in innovation may, however, fall through the cracks of epistemic virtues of one or other community. It may remain too qualitatively detailed yet numerically inconclusive for innovation studies and too schematic and mechanistic for S&TS. Elaborating on these complementarities and liabilities forms the thrust of our presentation.
Author:Lotte Asveld (Delft University of Technology)
Paper long abstract:
The emerging field of the bioeconomy is conceptualised by central actors such as the European Commission and the OECD as a technological trajectory towards a sustainable society. Switching from fossil resources such as oil to biomass, is expected to decrease CO2-emissions and to reduce waste and pollution. This innovation narrative has however been criticised for promoting techno-scientific innovation as societal progress, while it mainly reinforces existing economic power imbalances and neoliberal market mechanisms.
Analysing the dominant bioeconomic innovation narratives through the lens of the seminal theory of 'Diffusion of Innovations' (DOI) by Rogers, sheds light on the main factors that have led to successful bioeconomic innovations such as first generation biofuels. Although first generation biofuels have met with considerable resistance, they are nonetheless widespread, indicating that broad societal acceptance has not been the prime driver for biofuels. According to DOI, sustainability doesn't qualify as the main driver behind their diffusion either. Other aspects of this innovation, such as compatibility with existing infrastructures, were probably more important.
This analysis ties in with criticism on the dominant innovation narrative in the bioeconomy which has been voiced, among others, by STS scholars. As such DOI strengthens STS approaches of deconstructing meaning. Additionally this approach offers instruments to tailor technological trajectories such as the bioeconomy towards societally desirable goals such as a sustainable society, i.e. it can bring STS from deconstructing to constructing technologies going beyond merely including stakeholders as is proposed by approaches such as Responsible Research and Innovation or Constructive Technology Assessment.
Authors:Harro van Lente (Maastricht University)
Alexander Peine (Utrecht University)
Paper long abstract:
In this paper we compare and contrast the storylines of theories of technology from the fields of innovation studies and STS. Under these two partly overlapping umbrella terms various theoretical strands have been developed from different disciplinary backgrounds and with specific aims. In general, theories mobilize concepts and offer storylines to convey a message to readers. To distinguished basic categories of storylines, literary studies use the notion of 'genre': storylines draw from the narrative structures of romance, comedy, tragedy and satire.
We delineate eight theories of technology from innovation studies and STS, which either relate to economic traditions (neo-Schumpeterian economics, innovations systems and path dependencies), socio-historical traditions (SCOT, large technical systems and the multi-level perspective) or management traditions (diffusion of innovation, technology cycles). First, we analyze the central concepts, the frameworks of argumentation and the strategies of intervention they suggest. Second, we compare the theories in five dimensions: (i) levels of aggregation, (ii) technology as process or as outcome, (iii) technology as knowledge or as material, (iv) descriptive vs prescriptive ambitions (v) theory as perspective or as substantial claim. Third, we investigate whether and how theories draw from particular genres: how the lessons about successes, failure, dynamics and unforeseen consequences are presented in storylines with (human or non-human) protagonists. We conclude that apart from their explicit lessons, theories of technology also bring implicit lessons and recommendations, due to the format of a genre.
Author:Maximilian Fochler (University of Vienna)
Paper long abstract:
STS and innovation studies both have a key interest in the relation between academic and commercial logics in processes of knowledge production, but they talk past each other in astonishing ways.
STS is concerned with how economic logics change processes and institutions of knowledge production. It can build on a rich tradition of studying knowledge cultures to talk about these issues. However, STS remains focused on academia, ignoring that there are many more epistemic cultures in contemporary societies than academic disciplines. Hence, many contributions may be criticized for employing an overly schematic model of commercial research in talking about changes in academia.
IS on the other hand has studied the commercial dimension of current research in much detail, be it patenting dynamics in basic research or knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship. From an STS perspective however, its work often stops where an STS interest would start. It hardly ever addresses the co-production of epistemic approaches and social, institutional and cultural contexts.
My paper proposes to explore synergies by taking STS concepts beyond their comfort zone. Drawing on interviews in biotech companies and the academic life sciences in Austria, I will compare cultures of knowledge production in both domains. More concretely, I will focus on the respective valuation practices and the attribution of epistemic agency. As I will show, some of the routine allegations raised in STS against commercial research, such as that one order of worth supersedes all others and particularly epistemic considerations, empirically might describe academic contexts better than (small) corporate ones.
Author:Johan Schot (University of Sussex)
Paper long abstract:
This paper will discuss and reflect a large research program, of which the paper proposer has been program leader, which aimed at writing of a new history of Europe. The history has two manifestations. First, the writing of a six volume book series (monographs) by 13 authors (see www.makingeurope.eu). The books are published in the period 2014-2015. Second, the development of a Digital European Science and Technology Museum, for teaching purposes, in collaboration with 10 science museums (see www.inventingeurope.eu).
The basic assumption of the program is that the politics of Europe is the politics of technology as much as anything else, and that given the growing emphasis on innovation by the EU as one of its identity markets, it is now is the opportune time to explore technology's historical role in the creation of Europe. In this history the authors follow a broad variety of actors who made and unmade Europe. The history documents users who constructed Europe by appropriating and consuming a wide range of technologies. It also focuses on technical and scientific experts who created standards, infrastructures, institutions and knowledge networks which had far-reaching implications for European integration.
The paper will be a personal reflection on how various concepts and ideas developed within STS, innovation studies, and history of technology shaped the process of research, writing, teaching, and website creation. If accepted, the paper author intends to bring a number of his co-workers (authors) in order to provide additional reflections and inputs to the discussion.
Authors:Robin Williams (The University of Edinburgh)
Neil Pollock (University of Edinburgh)
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores our developing understandings of the relationship between technology and society that have emerged through an extended enquiry over two decades into the emergence and spread of enterprise systems (ES) - complex software suites that support diverse activities across organisations.
It shows how initial micro-sociological approaches, prevalent in the early stages of technology studies, yielded misleading conclusions that the future of ES lay with customised solutions rather than the generic packages that subsequently prevailed. By extending our enquiry across multiple moments and locales of innovation we examined the co-evolution of artefacts and user organisations over multiple cycles of design and implementation. This perspective that emerged - the biography of artefacts and practices - led us to further extend our study to capture the new forms of expertise that enabled the market in these complex systems to operate and also to develop new conceptual frameworks to analyse the emergence of information infrastructures (rather than discrete information systems).
These developments represent in some ways a constructive working through of the debates that took place as Technology Studies emerged in the 1980s about different conceptions of 'the social shaping of technology', e.g. between action-centred and social relations accounts.
We suggest that Science and Technology Studies has drawn very effectively upon other cognate traditions - for example organisation studies, sociology of markets. This cross-breeding has underpinned the continued conceptual dynamism of our field (though paradoxically work from Innovation Systems perspectives, narrowly conceived, has not really been a significant contributor).
Author:Masato Fukushima (The University of Tokyo)
Paper long abstract:
Recent research on the performativity of economics in STS (Callon et al. 2007; Mackenzie et al. 2008) raises questions regarding the related dynamism of theoretical formulations existing between STS and Innovation Study (IS). It has been proposed that efforts be made to synthesize diverse theoretical legacies in the case of management theory (Mintzberg 2005) or middle range STS theory (Geels 2007), but I advocate reconsidering the meaning of such efforts from the practitioners' viewpoint. Acknowledging the importance of the popularized usage of concepts, from paradigm to hype cycle, in guiding and legitimizing researchers' actual practices (Van Lente 1993; Rip 2006; cf. Wieder 1974, Bourdieu 1992), this paper aims to illustrate the possible performativity of STS/IS in the context of ongoing innovation processes.
Drawing upon an ethnographic observation of scientists and managers involved in big biological projects in a public research institute in Japan, I will discuss their diverse ways of making sense of their endeavors in the wider process of drug discovery pipeline and how this diversity eventually produces competing or even contradictory expectations about what is coming and what to do next. This leads us to think of the possibility that different theoretical devices, from STS to IS, can be beneficial to different recipients in guiding their diverse experiences. This line of reasoning indicates a need for further research on the performativity of diverse innovation theories in situ, where different theories may flourish by finding their own niche, distinguished from the ways attempted in academia.
Authors:Kornelia Konrad (University of Twente)
Haico te Kulve
Paper long abstract:
Haico te Kulve & Kornelia Konrad*
The role of users in innovation is a key theme within Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Innovation Studies (IS). Within STS there is a rich body of literature with micro level studies, but relatively less attention to patterns which play at the sector level. Within IS there is relatively more attention to meso-level dynamics, for instance within studies on systems of innovation, but to some degree black-boxing of variety and dynamics of user practices and their involvement in innovation processes.
This paper explores the possibility of cross-breeding by combining insights from STS and IS in order to examine dynamics at the sector level regarding the formulation of requirements, and illustrates this with an empirical analysis of monitoring technologies in the drinking water sector. While drinking water companies express a keen interest in sensor technologies for water quality monitoring, and much efforts have been done to develop sensor technologies, the articulation of demands up to actual application of sensors is surprisingly limited. To understand what is happening we have collected and analyzed data from 15 semi-structured interviews, reports and an interactive stakeholder workshop.
Our findings show the emergence and unfolding of different demand trajectories and their dynamics, including impasses in articulation processes. The paper concludes by suggesting that actors attempting to overcome impasses in specifying requirements for novel technologies should not solely focus on clarifying performance characteristics of novel options, but anticipate early on the unfolding of demand trajectories and interdependencies with other actors' preferences and responsibilities regarding these novel options.
Authors:Eun Sun Kim (The University of Edingurgh)
Diana Velasco (University of Edinburgh)
Pattamaporn Prachomrat (University of Edinburgh)
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the way in which the concept of National Innovation Systems (NSI) has been taken up in different countries. The NSI approach has been proposed both as a tool for analysis and as a framework for policy intervention. In the latter connection, NSI has been proposed as a model for developing as well as less developed economies. In this process, particular framings of NSI have been promoted. A further translation has arisen as policy-makers in particular nations have selectively implemented the generic NSI model according to their understanding or framings of the world. Drawing upon studies of the implementation of innovation policies in Korea, Thailand, and Colombia we note how the NSI approach has been taken up across different regions of the world in part as a result of the efforts of transnational organizations. This has encouraged particular policy framings that tacitly emphasise innovation rather than competitiveness as the key to economic development and which, with their focus on the exploitation of public sector research tend towards 'linear' science-driven policy strategy to promote innovation. Alternative approaches might take as their starting points particular industrial capabilities and needs and the particular dynamics of innovation arising.
Authors:Thomas Østerlie (NTNU Social Research)
Randi Ann Fagerholt
Gunhild Foss Heggem (NTNU Social Sciences)
Paper long abstract:
Open innovation (OI) has recently received considerable attention within industry as well as within innovation studies (IS). At the same time, it is criticized for being yet another management fad with limited, if any, positive effect on organizations' ability to do innovation. Combining IS' interest in OI with STS theory, we contend that management fads such as OI may also have a productive function for doing innovation in organizations.
We draw upon the case of developing an online innovation portal within a multi-national corporation to empirically elaborate how this. The case is based upon materials collected through sustained engagement with research and development in this corporation over the past five years. We approach open innovation as a management fashion made up of an emergent collection of more or less stable abstractions exemplified through narratives, and circulated through books and articles, through seminars, conferences, workshops, project meetings. Focus of the analysis is on the role and function played by elements of this hybrid ensemble in the materialization of open innovation as organizational practice.
We find that talking about the innovation portal as OI frames ongoing activities within the corporation in particular ways; it acts somewhat as a 'framing device'. Focus shifts towards activities resonating with aspects of the model, while activities not resonating with the model are seen as less relevant to the corporation. Framing the portal as OI yields legitimacy to the portal, forwarding it as a point of mobilization for multiple interests within the corporation.
Authors:Pasi Pohjola (National Institute for Health and Welfare)
Juha Koivisto (National Institute for Health and Welfare)
Paper long abstract:
This theoretical paper proposes how existing work in Innovation Studies (IS) and in Science and Technology Studies (STS) can complement each other in the research on innovations. The paper discusses the relationships of existing open innovation research of IS and Systemic Innovation Model that originates from STS. The open innovation research in IS has detailed understanding about mechanisms and types of open innovation, but lacks clarity in ways describing the activities, networks and relations of these processes, which is the tradition and vocabulary of STS, provided by the Systemic Innovation Model.
Open innovation has been one of the hot topics of Innovation Studies (IS). It has discussed open innovation in various ways, such as inbound and outbound open innovation as ways how firms open up the innovation process. Open innovation has also entered the development of public services in terms of cross-organizational collaboration and has increased the public engagement in the service development. The most influential academic work on open innovations has been about large firms and mostly about different ways of practicing open innovation and the variety of open innovation activities.
The work of IS on open innovation "black boxes" the innovation processes and its objects. It is proposed how Systemic Innovation Model can open up the box by providing concepts for analyzing the heterogeneous socio-materiality and the networks of actors of these processes. It is also proposed that the STS tradition can extend the research on open innovations to other domains not discussed at large in IS.