Rathenau Instituut

The Hague, Netherlands

Rathenau Instituut

The Hague, Netherlands

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de Jong S.P.L.,Leiden University | Wardenaar T.,PNO Consultants | Horlings E.,Rathenau Instituut
Research Policy | Year: 2016

Scientists have long since become accustomed to explaining the future value of their work. Nowadays token statements are no longer sufficient. Societal impact must be embedded in the organisation of research. The call for societal impact is most explicitly expressed in and actively shaped by transdisciplinary research programmes. We have examined two questions related to compliance in the principal-agent relation between a programme and its projects. The first question concerns the risk of moral hazard: is societal actor involvement a token activity or a substantial component of the research process? The second question relates to possible adverse selection: does societal actor involvement produce the expected benefits and, if so, under which conditions? We surveyed members and project leaders of 178 projects in two transdisciplinary climate research programmes in The Netherlands. There is no reason to suspect large-scale moral hazard. Projects formally labelled as transdisciplinary have characteristics typically associated with transdisciplinarity but academic projects share those characteristics. Neither is there reason to suspect adverse selection. The archetypical properties of transdisciplinary research are associated with the expected societal benefits. An important finding is that there are different types of benefit, each of which requires its own approach. Benefit is achieved through informal involvement and a diversity of outputs, and much less by giving societal actors a prominent role or influence in the research process. Based on our conclusions we recommend customizing the design of climate research programmes and projects towards the needs of the specific societal benefits they aim to generate and reconsidering the emphasis on formal involvement of societal actors in funding procedures. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


Boenink M.,University of Twente | Swierstra T.,Maastricht University | Stemerding D.,Rathenau Instituut
Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology | Year: 2010

During the last decades several tools have been developed to anticipate the future impact of new and emerging technologies. Many of these focus on 'hard,' quantifiable impacts, investigating how novel technologies may affect health, environment and safety. Much less attention is paid to what might be called 'soft' impacts: the way technology influences, for example, the distribution of social roles and responsibilities, moral norms and values, or identities. Several types of technology assessment and of scenario studies can be used to anticipate such soft impacts. We argue, however, that these methods do not recognize the dynamic character of morality and its interaction with technology. As a result, they miss an important opportunity to broaden the scope of social and political deliberation on new and emerging technologies. In this paper we outline a framework for building scenarios that enhance the techno-moral imagination by anticipating how technology, morality and their interaction might evolve. To show what kind of product might result from this framework, a scenario is presented as an exemplar. This scenario focuses on developments in biomedical nanotechnology and the moral regime of experimenting with human beings. Finally, the merits and limitations of our framework and the resulting type of scenarios are discussed. © 2010 Berkeley Electronic Press. All rights reserved.


Zeiss R.,Maastricht University | Van Egmond S.,Rathenau Instituut
Science in Context | Year: 2014

This article studies the roles three science-based models play in Dutch policy and decision making processes. Key is the interaction between model construction and environment. Their political and scientific environments form contexts that shape the roles of models in policy decision making. Attention is paid to three aspects of the wider context of the models: a) the history of the construction process; b) (changes in) the political and scientific environments; and c) the use in policy processes over longer periods of time. Models are more successfully used when they are constructed in a stable political and scientific environment. Stability and certainty within a scientific field seems to be a key predictor for the usefulness of models for policy making. The economic model is more disputed than the ecology-based model and the model that has its theoretical foundation in physics and chemistry. The roles models play in policy processes are too complex to be considered as straightforward technocratic powers. © 2014 Cambridge University Press.


Bornmann L.,ETH Zurich | Leydesdorff L.,University of Amsterdam | Van den Besselaar P.,Rathenau Instituut | Van den Besselaar P.,VU University Amsterdam
Journal of Informetrics | Year: 2010

Combining different data sets with information on grant and fellowship applications submitted to two renowned funding agencies, we are able to compare their funding decisions (award and rejection) with scientometric performance indicators across two fields of science (life sciences and social sciences). The data sets involve 671 applications in social sciences and 668 applications in life sciences. In both fields, awarded applicants perform on average better than all rejected applicants. If only the most preeminent rejected applicants are considered in both fields, they score better than the awardees on citation impact. With regard to productivity we find differences between the fields. While the awardees in life sciences outperform on average the most preeminent rejected applicants, the situation is reversed in social sciences. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


Wardenaar T.,Rathenau Instituut | De Jong S.P.L.,Rathenau Instituut | Hessels L.K.,Rathenau Instituut
Science and Public Policy | Year: 2014

Strategic research consortia as policy instruments for research coordination have been on the rise for more than a decade. Despite their rising popularity as coordination structures, there has been little comparative analysis of the actual coordination approaches such consortia develop. In order to enhance our understanding of consortia as coordination structures, this paper makes a systematic and in-depth comparison of the coordination approaches of two Dutch consortia. The analysis shows that research consortia coordinate their activities in very different ways. A consortium's coordination approach turns out to be strongly influenced by its internal characteristics. The observed influence of internal consortium characteristics implies that the eventual coordination approach of consortia will not always match the rationale behind a policy measure to support these consortia. We recommend policy-makers to foster strategic research consortia with a heterogeneous composition that have organised sufficient flexibility for reacting to unforeseen developments. © The Author 2014.


Stemerding D.,Rathenau Instituut | Nahuis R.,Saxion University
New Genetics and Society | Year: 2014

Valorization of knowledge has been defined as a major challenge in the context of genomics as an emerging strategic research field. Valorization is a Dutch science-policy concept for what is elsewhere called science impact or the third mission of universities. This article describes the institutionalization of valorization policy in the Dutch genomics research system as a specific manifestation of a changing social contract between science and society, which mainly targets economic value creation and the stimulation of entrepreneurship. A societal debate has emerged in which this focus on economic aspects has been strongly criticized as one-sided. In response, policy-makers are willing to adopt a broader definition of valorization. On the basis of an analysis of valorization policies and practices in Dutch medical genomics, this article draws attention to two myths in this valorization debate. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Van Est R.,Rathenau Instituut | Van Est R.,TU Eindhoven | Stemerding D.,Rathenau Instituut
Artificial Life | Year: 2013

The life sciences present a politically and ethically sensitive area of technology development. NBIC convergence - the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information and cognitive technology - presents an increased interaction between the biological and physical sciences. As a result the bio-debate is no longer dominated by biotechnology, but driven by NBIC convergence. NBIC convergence enables two bioengineering megatrends: "biology becoming technology" and "technology becoming biology." The notion of living technologies captures the latter megatrend. Accordingly, living technology presents a politically and ethically sensitive area. This implies that governments sooner or later are faced with the challenge of both promoting and regulating the development of living technology. This article describes four current political models to deal with innovation promotion and risk regulation. Based on two specific developments in the field of living technologies - (psycho)physiological computing and synthetic biology - we reflect on appropriate governance strategies for living technologies. We conclude that recent pleas for anticipatory and deliberative governance tend to neglect the need for anticipatory regulation as a key factor in guiding the development of the life sciences from a societal perspective. In particular, when it is expected that a certain living technology will radically challenge current regulatory systems, one should opt for just such a more active biopolitical approach. © 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


van der Sluijs J.P.,University Utrecht | van Est R.,Rathenau Instituut | Riphagen M.,Rathenau Instituut
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2010

The international debate about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and climate science in the aftermath of 'Climategate' gives cause for reflection. While the main emphasis lies on evaluating the procedures of the IPCC during the production of the fourth assessment report, too little attention has been paid to the political role of the IPCC. This article reflects on that political role by distinguishing three strategies to deal with scientific uncertainties in interfacing science and policy: 1) quantify uncertainty, 2) building scientific consensus, and 3) openness about ignorance. Each strategy has strengths and weaknesses. The way the international community has set up the IPCC and its procedures has basically been guided by the consensus approach. The current emphasis on restoring faith in the IPCC by improving its procedures reinforces this strategy. Guaranteeing the scientific reliability of IPCC reports is indeed essential but it does not address the main weakness of the consensus approach: the underexposure of both scientific and political dissent. As a result of this weakness climate science has become politicized over the past decades. Moreover, as we illustrate for the Netherlands, the consensus approach has hindered a full-blown political climate debate. The third policy strategy that aims for more openness and attention for diversity and deep uncertainty in knowledge and views may inspire more democratic ways to organize the interface between climate politics and science. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Hessels L.K.,Rathenau Instituut | Grin J.,University of Amsterdam | Smits R.E.H.M.,University Utrecht
Science and Public Policy | Year: 2011

This paper investigates the varying effects of a changing institutional environment on academic research practices in three fields of Dutch animal science. Our analysis shows that the shifts in funding have stimulated interactions with societal stakeholders in fields where this has helped to sustain a basic research agenda. In other fields researchers experience a tension between satisfying the needs of application-oriented funding sources and reaching high scores on evaluations dominated by bibliometric indicators. The paper concludes with the identification of three field characteristics that seem to moderate the effects of institutional changes on academic research practices.© Beech Tree Publishing 2011.


PubMed | Rathenau Instituut
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nanoethics | Year: 2017

Synthetic biology may be an important source of progress as well as societal and political conflict. Against this backdrop, several technology assessment organizations have been seeking to contribute to timely societal and political opinion-making on synthetic biology. The Rathenau Instituut, based in the Netherlands, is one of these organizations. In 2011, the institute organized a Meeting of Young Minds: a young peoples debate between future synthetic biologists and future politicians. The former were represented by participants in the international Genetically Engineered Machines competition (iGEM), the latter by political youth organizations (PYOs) linked to Dutch political parties. The Rathenau Instituut found seven PYOs-including right wing, left wing, Green and Christian groups-willing to commit to an intensive process aimed at formulating a tentative partisan view on synthetic biology and discussing it with fellow PYOs and iGEM participants. Given the minimal amount of available data on how political parties understand synthetic biology, mapping the debate may provide valuable insights. In this article, I aim to provide such a mapping exercise and also to reflect on how and why the Rathenau Instituut organized the event.

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