21 October 2014

Call for papers: "Challenge-oriented Research and Innovation: Concepts, Practices and Policies"

For a special issue of the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy.

The notion that research and innovation can contribute to the resolution of major (grand or global) societal challenges has become pervasive in contemporary research and innovation (R&I) policy at both European and national levels. This brings forth a number of challenges in research and innovation policy design and analysis: How are these new challenge-driven approaches included in the prevailing repertoire of research and innovation policy and what kind of impacts may they have on the practice of policy making? What are current challenge-driven research and innovation policies and how should their development be understood and analysed? In which policy-making cycles has the concept (re)emerged from whom and why? How are challenge-oriented policies operationalised? What special features do/should challenge-oriented policies and policy instruments conform with?

These issues need to be addressed through a reflexive and forward-looking approach, acknowledging that while the notion of societal, grand and global challenges now drives, inspires and justifies an increasing number of policy instruments, initiatives and priorities, neither the concept nor the organisational models of challenge-driven R&I policy are anywhere near a crystallised and stabilised state. Hence, the rhetoric and practice of challenge-driven R&I policies, on one hand, and the analytical frameworks to understand and sustain them, on the other, are in a process of co-evolvement, obfuscating any simple distinction between theory and practice, and between descriptive adequacy and normative intervention.

The aim of this special issue is twofold: (a) to deepen our understanding of the evolution of the concept of “grand challenges” in policy discourse, and (b) to identify and discuss implications for policy design, operationalisation and analysis.

We invite in particular papers which combine conceptual or theoretical contributions with empirical evidence or comparative analyses. Given that the “grand challenge” orientation is inherently linked with future strategies and policies, we also encourage papers which apply a forward-looking approach in their analysis and discussions. Papers may come from diverse fields (such as political science, social science, organisational science) and relate to different debates within and beyond the research and innovation policy community.

Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The meaning of the "grand challenges" concept and its relation with earlier policy developments
  • The politics of the emergence of the concept in policy discourse
  • Changes and implications for policy making and the operationalisation of policies
  • Implications for policy design and analysis, i.e.
    • in the form of assessments, for example, of current approaches as the "innovation system" approach for understanding developments,
    • or in the form of key issues, dimensions and tensions examined with a forward-looking approach that may have an essential bearing on this particular type of challenge-driven R&I policy orientation

Important Dates
Submission deadline for full papers: 31 May, 2015
Notification of acceptance: 31 July, 2015
Submission deadline for final versions: 30 September, 2015

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