2020. 12. 01.

A Brief Talk with Emad Yaghmaei

Emad Yaghmaei

  • Senior Researcher, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • Research interest: the institutionalisation of RRI, governance of organisations and processes with a focus on their ethical, social, and governmental impacts
  • Co-Change WP6 leader on developing metrics for the evaluation of Responsible Innovation
  • Member of the IEEE Standard committee on Governance of Artificial Intelligence
  • Visit on LinkedIn, on Twitter

The Co-Change WP6 develops an evaluation framework and indicators to assess developments and outcomes of the Co-Change Labs. What is the essence of such an assessment? 

In essence, this is about assessing the performance of the Co-Change Labs against RRI principles, reflecting on whether we walk the talk. More practically, measuring how the Co-Change Labs integrate the values into their daily operations, decisions, processes. For meaningfully measuring Responsible Innovation in Co-Change Labs first, we need to co-determine indicators, define the operational criteria so that we can start tailor-making these indicators. Some indicators that work in one context do not necessarily work in another context. Therefore, it is the Co-Change Labs that select and prioritise their measurement dimensions, which is a learning process for the labs to improve their activities. During the assessment process first, we picture where the labs are and start to raise awareness of RRI within the Labs’ innovation ecosystems. After the implementation of the Co-Change Lab processes in WP2-3-4, the assessment can begin meaningfully. In the evaluation, we ask whether societal effects are meaningfully considered or not; moral values are embedded or not. The review is not about judgments but planning improvements: looking together at what can we do to improve our practices. The Labs’ responsiveness that is their capacity to align with their societal goals will be evaluated several times, and this gives us the chance to revise indicators in a dynamic process. Through this double-loop learning, we go back to the original indicators and in the light of Co-Change experience modify as necessary.

How do you support Co-Change Labs in their own assessment process? 

Our state-of-the-art analysis in the Co-Change Labs creates the momentum to start a reflection on where we are and where we lag. This assessment is though not something imposed externally, Co-Change Labs fight their struggle for identifying their performance strengths and improvement areas.

The main issue is tailor-making the indicators to each lab. The unique element of Co-Change is the diversity of Labs with regard to the substantive research and innovation topics they address (e.g. AI, RRI consultancy, entrepreneurship education, standardisation, etc.) on the one hand and, on the other, being RPOs and RFOs. So, identifying the context-sensitive indicators is the main challenge and result of this work.

You recently had a book launch (Assessment of Responsible Innovation Methods and Practices – eds. Emad Yaghmaei, Ibo van de Poel) What do you consider to be the most exciting lessons for the Co-Change labs? What would you recommend to Co-Changers to read?

The book (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429298998) contains chapters from pertinent industry and business contexts on how RRI contribute to societal value creation. Our Co-Change labs could especially benefit a lot from the tools in the best practices section. We present seven best practices in the book, each centred around one helpful tool to assess the socio-technical environment. Best practice 5 (Managing social impacts and ethical issues of research and innovation: the CEN/WS 105 Guidelines to innovate responsibly) is a road-mapping tool to manage societal implications – this is helpful for all our Labs. Embedding the SDGs into organisation’s work could be learned from Best practice 6-7 (Benchmarking for a better world: assessing corporate performance on the SDGs and Enabling the private sector to manage its impact on the SDGs). Chapter 6 is about how voluntary standards support responsible innovation implementation. Finally, for assessment purposes, Chapter 12 is instructive on RRI intensity. The potential pitfalls of assessing RRI implementation are detailed in chapter 14 (RRI measurement and assessment).