Special Track on Responsible Innovation in Chains and Networks – Call Open!

IFAMA 26th Annual Conference, and WICaNeM 12th Bi-Annual Conference will join effort for their next conference event that will take place in Aarhus, Denmark, on June 19 – 23, 2016. A special track on Responsible Innovation in Chains and Networks is scheduled, and the track coordinators are:

Vincent Blok (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Victor Scholten (Delft University, The Netherlands)
Rob Lubberink (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Abstract submissions are welcome, and the deadline is November 29, 2015.
In the context of the IFAMA/WICaNeM conference on chain and network management, the following research areas are of special interest:
  • Till now, most research is done from a policy or socio-ethical perspective and focusing on academic R&D environments, while most innovations take place in commercial or industrial settings (cf. Flipse 2012). It is precisely corporate innovation, which is underrepresented in current research on responsible innovation (cf. Blok and Lemmens, 2015; Blok, Hoffmans and Wubben, 2015).
  • Nowadays, it is widely acknowledged that only a few firms have all resources and networks available to innovate in isolation. Most firms innovate in networks and/or together with their supply chain partners. This raises the question how collaborating firms share the responsibility for the innovation they work on. It is precisely innovation in chains and networks, which is underrepresented in current research on responsible innovation.
  • Although all industries and sectors can be involved in responsible innovation, sector specific differences are not taken into account in current research and some sectors are underrepresented. It is precisely the agri-food sector, which is underrepresented in current research on responsible innovation. Nanotechnology and ICT for instance are fields of research which are often mentioned in the responsible innovation literature, but in biotechnology, medical technology and food technology we observe similar issues concerning health and/or privacy. Insights from several industries and sectors can help to develop a better conceptualization of responsible innovation and to distinguish sector-specific characteristics of its application.
  • Through the concept of responsible innovation, the focus of innovation processes shifts towards societal challenges. These are converted into business opportunities to create new concepts, business models and ways of operating, as well as more efficient approaches to resource exploitation and energy consumption. These opportunities require a different approach to problem solving which diverts significantly from the way we think about solutions, technologies and applications today. The question is to what extent SMEs and start-ups can benefit from these opportunities for responsible innovation, assuming that they are not constrained by a dominant logic, existing heuristics and current practices to problem solving (Scholten and vd Duin, 2015).
  • Responsible innovation presupposes that business decisions with regard innovation activities are at least partly ethically motivated (Waldman and Galvin, 2008) with strong concerns for others over the own interests of the company (Jones, et al. 2007). However, the responsibility of a business decision exists only if there is “a clear and directly foreseeable return on investment” (Waldman and Siegel, 2008: 119). Consequently, the question is raised how companies, especially SMEs, make decisions and organize their innovation process to the extent it is considered more responsible?
For further questions and remarks, please feel free to contact the track coordinators Vincent Blok (vincent.blok@wur.nl) and Victor Scholten (V.E.scholten@TUdelft.nl)