Responsible innovation and societal challenges: The multi-scalarity dilemma

Martijn Wiarda*, Neelke Doorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Societal challenges tend to be characterized by their multi-scalarity as problems emerge and co-evolve on multiple scales. Resolving these challenges requires innovators to navigate often conflicting considerations between multiple scales when dealing with complexity, uncertainty, and contestation. Innovators need to ground resolutions in local values and worldviews while simultaneously fitting these into global efforts to help drive systemic responses. Nevertheless, studies on Responsible Innovation commonly focus exclusively on a local or global scale. In this perspective paper, we explore rationales for these two prevalent but opposing approaches, and provide tentative insights into how multi-scalarity could be navigated by uniting scales through a hybrid approach. The paper proceeds by opening up research on multi-scalarity, and the geographical and relational aspects of Responsible Innovation in a broader sense.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100072
JournalJournal of Responsible Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Multi-scalarity
  • Politics of scaling
  • Responsible innovation
  • Responsible research and innovation
  • Societal challenges
  • Wicked problems


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