Call for abstracts

The Lund Declaration, which was handed to the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union by 400 prominent researchers and politicians in 2009, states that "European research must focus on the Grand Challenges of our time moving beyond current rigid thematic approaches. This calls for a new deal among European institutions and Member States, in which European and national instruments are well aligned and cooperation builds on transparency and trust." The declaration thus asks EU institutions to play a crucial role in bringing the relevant public and private actors together, and helping to build more cooperation and trust in order to address the overarching policy objectives.

This declaration has taken up and reinforced a development in the past few years in which governments and the European Union have adopted a new strategic rhetoric for their research and innovation policy priorities which addresses the major societal challenges of our time. This is evolving into the third major policy rationale besides economic growth and competitiveness.

It is not yet clear whether and how any transformative effects from this new mission-oriented approach can already be identified. The conference aims to attract papers that discuss possible transformative effects at different levels, i.e. on the actors performing research, innovation processes, scientific fields and technological sectors, the institutional funding and research landscape, society, the demand and user/beneficiary side, research and innovation policy and financing, and national and European political framework conditions. It also invites contributions that critically discuss methodological issues, conceptual developments and novel normative challenges around innovation and R&D policy triggered by the – alleged – mission oriented turn.

This conference will bring together leading and up and coming researchers across a range of social science disciplines and provide an open forum to promote the emerging academic discussion about new developments in research and innovation policy and their effects on knowledge production, innovation and grand challenges at different levels.

The conference welcomes papers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and traditions, including policy studies, political science, sociology, science and technology studies, public administration, the economics of science and innovation, research management, entrepreneurship, technology assessment and evaluation studies. The organizers encourage contributions that conceptually and/or empirically advance the topic.

Specific Themes

In the context of mission-orientation, the following sub-themes are suggested:

1. New patterns, drivers and models of innovation

Paper proposals can address a variety of different aspects that enrich or challenge established models of innovation such as (National) Innovation Systems. Ideas can include possible transformative effects on the actors performing research, such as new orientations, on the institutional funding and research landscape, or on the role of bottom-up and frontier research in mission-oriented policies. Further, papers could address issues and concepts such as the knowledge triangle (new forms of cooperation between education, research and innovation), regional innovation, new developments beyond R&D-driven innovation (e.g. non-technical innovation, social innovation, service innovation etc.). Moreover, systemic innovation or systemic eco-innovation are examples of models which are perhaps of special interest in the context of the – alleged – mission-oriented turn.

2. Policy instruments and their coordination

(New) research and innovation policy and financing, and more subtly also national and European political framework conditions, should in their genesis and evolution include mission-oriented thinking, such as a better connection to the needs of users and beneficiaries of innovations or of society in general. Systemic policy instruments could be of particular interest in this respect, as well as unveiling the myth and reality about the use of public demand as a driver of innovation. However, impacts from mission-orientation may also be expected on classical funding programmes, particularly in view of the risk of over-emphasising certain scientific or technological fields in programme budgets while cutting budgets for others that are regarded as less relevant for addressing grand challenges. Undoubtedly, mission-orientation also requires a better coordination of policy (instruments), horizontal as well as vertical. Papers studying these questions will be of special interest. Addressing grand challenges implies thinking about innovation policies in the broadest sense, and consequently, coordination with other policies such as environmental, climate, energy or health policies can become necessary e.g. via national innovation strategy processes. This is accompanied by the need for better vertical coordination with instruments and strategies at international (e.g. EU), national and regional level.

3. Governance of transformative change

Paper proposals can also address overall questions such as a normative turn in innovation policy, the role of visions and strategy in the governance of innovation, or whether sustainable transitions require new policy paradigms to foster radical innovation in complex social systems.

4. New methods of policy analysis

At the conference we would also like to shed light on methodological consequences that might arise from the – alleged – mission-oriented turn. For example, policy evaluation meets challenges: given that new impact dimensions are becoming vital in innovation policy, the approaches to evaluation and impact assessments of public R&D and innovation programmes need to be adapted. New types of analysis methods may become necessary in new contexts, such as transitions policy analysis.

Deadline and Requirements

Deadline for extended abstracts expired on February 15th, 2012.

Notification of accepted presentations will be sent out by March 15th, 2012.

From among the conference presentations, a selected number will be invited to publish full papers afterwards in a journal special issue or conference book.

12–13 June 2012
Karlsruhe, Germany


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