news from our program

Successful PhD defense Martijn Wiarda

27 Oct 2023

We are happy to be able to share that Martijn Wiarda (Delft University of Technology) is the first participant in our program who has gained his PhD degree - and even cum laude! On 25 October he successfully defended his dissertation titled Responsible Innovation for Wicked Societal Challenges: An Exploration of Strengths and Limitations. Congratulation to Martijn!


Abstract of the dissertation

Innovators are increasingly called upon to help resolve societal challenges such as pandemics, climate change, and social injustice. The complexity, uncertainty, and contestation associated with such wicked problems require them to leverage approaches that help navigate normative and epistemic considerations for decision-making. A large number of scholars and practitioners believe that the procedural approach of Responsible Innovation could offer this. Responsible Innovation aims to align innovations with societal values and worldviews through forms of anticipation, inclusion, reflexivity, and responsiveness. Early anticipatory and reflexive deliberations subsequently provide an understanding of what decisions and outcomes are deemed ethically acceptable in light of uncertainty. This dissertation explores the usefulness of some approaches applied by Responsible Innovation in tackling wicked problems. It suggests that Responsible Innovation paradoxically fosters collaborations while also revealing contestation, and that innovators will need to leverage boundary objects and combine complementary approaches to deal with the (multi-scalar) conflict that is attributed to societal challenges.