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 conducted 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.