In order to underpin the targeted transition process towards responsible research and innovation (rri)* within the two large organizations, the project started by asking two questions: (1) how can the transformation of an organization be understood, described and measured and also (2) what are existing practices of responsible research and innovation in both organizations.

* We use rri to distinguish existing ("de facto“) responsible practices from the official European Commission policy (RRI).

Common Starting Point: Theoretical Framework

For the first question, our partners from MMU carried out a systematic literature review of key theoretical terms and 'touchstones' provided by the organizational institutionalism literature, in order to provide a shared, literature-underpinned, vocabulary and understanding for the change process. On this basis, the team of MMU developed a theoretical framework for 'Deep Institutionalisation', i. e. lasting embedding of responsibility into the everyday practice, systematized techniques, methodologies, procedures, incentive structures and performance metrics of actors within an organization. Their report presents a typology of deep institutionalization along the following four axes:

  • six grand narratives of rri
  • three phases of a rri maturation process
  • the range/extent of systematized rri practices within an organization
  • three degrees of vertical alignment of rri

It also emphasizes the importance of differentiation between de facto responsible research and innovation (or rri), which refers to what actors already do, and RRI as an EC policy instrument. This analytical differentiation will help to better understand to which extent and in which direction the RRI policy will steer and influence the already ongoing de facto rri practices of RTOs. In JERRI, the framework serves as an analytical tool to guide the change process within TNO and Fraunhofer.

The full framework can be found in Deliverable 1.2 Deepening ‘Deep Institutionalisation'.

Existing rri practices

The JERRI teams from TNO and Fraunhofer carried out a series of interviews and analyzed key documents in order to reveal existing rri practices within the two organizations and other RTOs. The analysis uncovered several commonalities among the organizations. In many of the RRI key dimensions Ethics, Gender, Open Access, Public Engagement and Science Education RTOs already show systematic and coordinated activities. Examples are the Open Access Strategy of Fraunhofer and the TNO code of conduct. What is more, responsibility is often part of further, older discourses such as sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, scientific integrity, or the establishment of organizational codes of conduct. Even though official definitions of RRI dimensions exist in many cases, e.g. in written policies, individual framings of the key dimensions vary widely. In some areas, institutionalisation and the operationalization into everyday practices is lagging behind ambitions so e.g. both organizations struggle to achieve their aims in terms of share of female leadership.

Read more about the findings on existing RRI practices within Deliverable 1.1 Synthesis on existing RRI practices.

Change Process

At the core of the JERRI project is a change process within the two organizations TNO and Fraunhofer. The process involves several steps, tasks and phases including rri goal setting, a transformative rri action plan and an implementation process. The following section will gradually outline these different steps of the change process.

RRI Goal Setting

Both Fraunhofer and TNO have gone through a dedicated process for setting goals within and across the RRI dimensions (Ethics, Gender, Open Access, Public Engagement and Science Education) in interaction with internal and external stakeholders. In addition, we defined concrete pilot activities in order to initiate the change process towards these goals. After the process we jointly reflected on the lessons learned and developed a tentative list of issues to be taken into account when engaging in similar processes as a basis for discussion with other RTOs.

Read more on:

The process of developing the goals:

The goals and activities adopted:

The respective lessons learned and tentative list of ten issues RTOs may want to consider when engaging in RRI transition processes:

Goals at Fraunhofer

Goals at TNO

Next steps

Currently both organizations are developing transition roadmaps detailing pathways from today’s pilots to the envisaged long-term goals to guide the process beyond the project’s lifetime.


The JERRI IHS team has implemented a process for monitoring and evaluating the different steps of the JERRI project in order to assess the suitability and success of JERRI activities and to provide continuous formative feedback to improve the quality of the JERRI processes and the significance of their outcomes.

Read more about the monitoring concept in Deliverable 8.1: Monitoring and Evaluation concept.

The findings for the first phase of JERRI activities and subsequent recommendations can be found in Deliverable 8.2: Evaluation Report I.

International Mutual Learning

Fraunhofer ISI has carried out in-depth case studies of two outstanding organizations outside Europe, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Arizona State University (ASU). In total, they have carried out 31 interviews (16 in China and 15 in US). An international group of actors discussed the findings within an international mutual learning workshop in December 2016 in Munich.

This report points out that ASU and CAS are operating based on rationales, which increasingly respond to new understandings of responsibility, and for both organizations, this means a new or adapted conceptualization of their roles within society and their linkages to society. Dominant fields of action of this de facto rri include for CAS science popularization, societal responsibility of scientists and open access. ASU operationalizes its activities along eight design aspirations, which are “Leverage our place”, “Transform society”, “Value Entrepreneurship”, “Conduct use-inspired research”, “Enable student success”, “Fuse intellectual disciplines”, “Be socially embedded”, and “Engage globally” with a priority on accessibility to a diverse student body. Both, CAS and ASU show evidence for “deep institutionalization” as the maturation process has also touched upon organizational design or incentive structures. External requirements were for both institutions a driving force. In both organizations two factors stand out as success factors for the change process:

  • Institutional entrepreneurship and leadership on all levels engaging the organization for change, in particular through a consistent communication of the narrative that provides legitimacy for change.
  • Existence of boundary-spanners, who connect units within the organization and outside the organization with different cognitive frameworks.

The report Deliverable 9.1: Global RRI Goals and Practices provides an in-depth account of the findings and includes ten “Good practice factsheets” ranging from the “Chief disruption officer” of ASU to the “Virtual Science Museum of China VSMC” of CAS.

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 709747.