2022. 03. 30.

A Brief Talk with Santtu Lehtinen and Henri Wiman

We ask Santtu Lehtinen and Henri Wiman about Work Package 4, first and foremost about the modelling process of the implementation and institutionalization of the RRI keys in organizations. They both work for the Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Santtu Lehtinen

  • Research Scientist at Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), my team focuses on Innovations and Ethics. Master of Social Sciences and a Master’s student of Strategic Intelligence at the University of Jyväskylä.
  • His primary interests are located at the nexus of Security, Science, and Technology. The cross-cutting themes in his work at VTT are the broad issues of Responsibility and Ethics, often from the point of view of Anticipatory approaches such as Foresight. He is also very keen on applying Systems Thinking to his work.
  • In the Co-Change Project he is contributing to work packages 1 (stocktaking exercise), 2 (ecosystem analysis), and 4.

Henri Wiman

  • Research Scientist at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT).
  • Doctoral researcher at the Institute for Sustainability Sciences, Helsinki University. ·    
  • Particularly interested in the analysis of institutions (rules, norms and ways of organizing) from a sustainability perspective. Often he approaches these issues with a qualitative or simulation modelling methodology. In any case, he likes to apply analytical approaches from systems science and systems thinking.
  • In Co-Change he contributes qualitative modelling expertise to WP4.

How do you support the Co-Change Labs to achieve their goals of institutionalization?

Santtu: We try to model the process of the implementation and institutionalization of the RRI principles, and how they are actually happening in practice. I think that RRI keys are discussed a lot in theoretical terms and there’s a lack of empirical data about their implementation. How it was done, why it has failed, or why it has not materialized? So in WP4, we are trying to provide input and guidance on how it should be done and insights into the process of implementing these principles at research performing organizations (RPOs). We are looking at three Co-Change Labs, VTT, Tecnalia, and AIT. These are our case studies.

Henri: We try to crystallize how exactly these RRI practices or equivalent practices get normalized in organizations. It can be helpful also for the Labs themselves. We would like to frame what institutionalization means. It could mean that the organization sets up new rules that require certain activities that we label as RRI, it could mean that the culture of the workplace changes so that people start doing things that we label as RRI, or it could mean, like in the case of Tecnalia, the development of networks of collaborators. Which I would personally consider as a kind of institutionalization.

Santtu: I think it also means to recognize the things that an organization is already doing that are de facto RRI-related processes, that they have already incorporated but didn’t consider as such.

Please, tell me something about the field book your WP is working on.

Santtu: We will write a guidance book based on the case studies with Co-Change Labs about the institutionalization of RRI. So the hope is that we can extrapolate and generalize how RRI processes happen in the case studies. And also how it could happen in any research organization. But of course, there are limits of generalization, as RRI is often very context-specific. Yet, I'm fairly confident that we can provide some kind of insights into a broader picture.

For whom are you making this field book?

Santtu: Generally for RPOs, but as I stated, many of these things that we do has links to the broader issue of organizational change. We are now thinking about the examples Co-Change provides and the dynamics that we are trying to model. But I'm hoping that we can also say something in a more general sense to a broader audience.

You are the facilitator of bi-directional learning with the Co-Change Labs. How should we imagine this exercise?

Santtu: We are focusing on the three case studies. After, we will also have sessions with the rest of the Labs. We will present and validate with them what we have done, especially to develop broader lessons to be shared. We will generate this overall bigger picture from the modeling process we are doing right now. Finally, we will also present and validate what we have discussed with some external experts. This is a kind of learning process.

You have already met some of the Labs. What are your first experiences?

Henri: We had discussions with several members of the organizations, not just the leader of each Lab. They have quite different perspectives on the issue which is the reason we do this task. The expectation is that we will get a fuller picture of RRI institutionalization. We also try to have multiple discussions, not just one. Just to make sure that we have understood correctly and have interpreted correctly what we've been discussing with the Labs. The discussions are quite unstructured. There are certain typical ways of the beginning, that we've applied in other projects. Just one example, we tend to begin by asking what RRI institutionalization means in their particular case. Because it can take many shapes and the different Labs will be interested in different aspects of it. We talk about the factors that drive this kind of change in an organization. And then how do these different factors associate with one another? Often drivers promote one another, in some cases, they don't, sometimes there are barriers that prevent change. As I said earlier, the interpretation of the Labs was iterated. Many times people feel like they tell us the same things over and over again. But in fact, they explain it a bit differently when we ask it a bit differently.

Santtu: The three case study organizations are all RPOs, so they have some definite similarities in how they look at what they're doing. But nonetheless, their approaches are quite diverse, people have very different perspectives on the way they view this issue. Therefore, what we are trying to model can be very different. It is quite refreshing that there are many different ways to view RRI in practice. It is also stimulating to see the Labs are in different countries in different situations, the organizations are a little bit different, but they still have a kind of tension between the similarities. When you pick up a similarity, you see that this is done differently in Austria than in Spain. It's really nice to have these three case studies where you can do the comparison. I also think it's a good possibility for the Labs to think through what they are actually doing. They might have their own kind of cognitive bubble where they think that this is all very clear and they know what they are doing, and their activities will be successful. But it might not be if misleading assumptions guide their work. I hope that with the help of the modeling we can provide support for the Labs to do a better job. I say this without underestimating the Labs. I believe we can help them to reflect on what they're doing.