Innovating Innovation: RRI as a Guiding Principle in the ERA

Posted: 22 Mar 2014 Last revised: 15 May 2015

See all articles by Stevienna de Saille

Stevienna de Saille

University of Sheffield - Department of Sociological Studies

Date Written: September 12, 2013


Calling for a 'new renaissance' for Europe in 2009, the European Research Area (ERA) was meant to undergo a paradigm shift in which science policy would now be based upon the shared responsibility of researchers, industry, policymakers and citizens to promote socially beneficial innovation. Through a textual analysis of EU documents, this paper will explore the processes through which this new framework for science policy, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), has been constructed within the context of the ERA, in order to shape technology towards still uncertainly-defined 'European' values and public goods. Interrogating this still-emergent concept suggests that the construction and operationalisation of RRI will itself be an ongoing innovation in up-stream democratic governance processes. The paper will question whether it has retained its goal of providing democratically accountable governance of science and technology as it begins to move through the policy process and concludes by discussing ways in which RRI might utilise a wider involvement of stakeholders, so that the ERA does not uncritically promote the return of pre-crisis approaches to economic growth, nor create new forms of inequality in the shape of a pan-European technoscientific 'research elite.'

Keywords: European Union, Responsible Innovation, Science Policy

Suggested Citation

de Saille, Stevienna, Innovating Innovation: RRI as a Guiding Principle in the ERA (September 12, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Stevienna De Saille (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - Department of Sociological Studies ( email )

Sheffield, S10 2TN
United Kingdom

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