The session highlights the importance of indicators in the construction of expertise and the constitution of problems under decision. Thesis is that risk and innovation politics are highly performed through indicator politics. Looking that way, processes of deciding can be understood more deeply.
Governance by numbers is an old phenomenon (cf. Heintz 2010). Its historical emergence in modern cultures has been related to the rise of science, state and capitalism, among others, through social demand for objectivity and transparency from those governed (Porter 1995; Shor 2008). This phenomenon has been directed to the introduction of measures in a wide range of fields (e.g. new public management in universities, ranking activities), but can also be seen in reports about innovation within the context of different systems of innovation. Presently, it is easy and more frequent to use numbers (and other types of evidences) in decision processes (Rottenburg & Merry 2015; Head 2010). However, we know little about the effect of this way of deciding in society (Espeland and Sauder 2012) and, in particular, in innovative contexts where uncertainty and complexity abounds.
This session intends to discuss the importance of indicators in the construction of expertise and the constitution of problems under decision. Indicators frame the problem in a way which is in correspondence to their normative background and economic-political interests. Their selection can entail options that are not neutral, trivial or conscious, creating an implicit and sometimes controversial space for "indicator politics". Hence, this panel will address questions related to the ways indicators are constructed and to how they can help to interpret the context of the decision. Additionally, the panel seeks to understand which use of indicators can be observed in risk-policy or innovation-policy fields and how indicators steer the problem-solving process.