Reflections on Politics and Governance for Transformative Change (Group 4)

Thinking & Analysis

The group discussion on the politics and governance for transformative change was held after the poster session on the second day of the conference. Group members provided feedback to the group’s poster presenters. They engaged with other projects discussing the role of governments, the experimentation, and tools for transformative change. Since the topics in politics and governance for transformation are inclusive, the group discussion sketches out the integrative framework covering the agenda setting, testing, implementation, evaluation, and other processes of innovation governance. In this reflection, I explain the framework and some ideas suggested for framework articulation. Lastly, I briefly address the lessons that I could draw from these framework discussions.

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The discussion starts with ideas that come from recent practice in transformative innovation such as expectation governance. While innovation policy responses to governance change along with the expectation network shaped by politics, the policy shaped by expectation change exerts influences over the expectation network in turn. As recent research like Budde and Konrad (2019) addresses, policy for fuel cell development for transformation in Germany has been reorganized along with expectations like hypes and disappointments. Likewise, by designing a framework responsive to the governance environment, innovation actors could comprehend the interactions between context, stakeholders, and policy interventions.

The group’s research agenda deals with building up integrative frameworks. There are existing frameworks and emerging missions, which demands the new frameworks fit specific niches. Furthermore, practitioners and scholars could increase the agility of the framework by preparing toolkits for framework building. They analyze the elements that compose missions by framework toolkits. The group draws the loops connecting three framework domains: anticipatory frame, frame testing, and frame making. Anticipatory frame suggests blueprints for frame testing and making, and gets feedback from each side to redesign the testing and making. Bilateral feedback processes feed between each frame. For instance, portfolio and scaling connect the testing and the making. From the testing to the making, scaling is a process searching for appropriate project funding. In turn, from the making to the testing, the portfolio provides experiences and knowledge learned in practice to the testbed. In other words, actors participating in governance can continuously anticipate the testing-stage and making-stage of governance. For that reason, the group emphasizes the word “work” in the concept of “framework” to show that three frames are literally “working” in the loop.

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The limitation of the integrative framework is revealed at the end of the discussion. The integrative framework itself does not identify the initial policy problems like whether to continue the development of specific transformative innovation policies. While the literature on governance refers to ways to define and solve target policy problems, this identification should come before frameworks building. For example, in institutional analysis and development framework, Elinor Ostrom (2011) distinguishes the theory, framework, and variable. Framework realizes theory into the real world and links theory to variables by testing the validity of variables. Problems are defined and analyzed in theory level discussion to identify the problems in a tractable format. Besides identifying policy problems that governance tackles, however, there are problems that governance frameworks could deal with such as coordinating conflicts between stakeholders or producing rationale to strategically cope with agenda change. The integrative framework adjusts and refines the solutions to identified problems.

Discussing the integrative framework reflects the differences in innovation governance between countries that participants came from. Before reaching into the anticipatory frame, the group combines the policy terms to search the appropriate title for frames. Responsiveness, reflexivity, and inclusiveness are mentioned and combined with the frame. First, this process is comparable to what South Korean research agencies do in discussing the research agenda, since concepts on policy and governance are freely amalgamated into the new term among researchers who came from the Netherlands. Given the fact that theoretical discussion based on the socio-technical system provides anticipatory governance, this group discussion seems across and review the huge body of literature. From my experience in the innovation governance of South Korea, concepts on governance are tightly attached to economic values and the manufacturing sector. It seems there is a gap between governance concepts in South Korea and TIPC. From the late 1980s, debates on innovation system focused on the relationship between government-led R&D investments and large manufacturing corporates that hold a high share of industry in South Korea. Research and innovation agencies organized investment portfolios along with the government-industry relationship and, due to strong government leadership, policy endeavors based on universities devoted to transformative change take small parts in discussions on the research agenda. Consequently, governance concepts are not freely amalgamated into the transformation, but consumed the concepts statically. Secondly, university centers actively participate in discussing the research agenda in contrast to South Korea. Researchers and practitioners communicate with each other based on the public and private domains to search the research agenda and push the settled agenda into projects. TIPC provides opportunities for researchers in European university centers to share ideas and suggest agendas to funding agencies, which is a fresh experience for me.

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