Responsible Innovation and Standard Selection

Responsible Innovation and Standard Selection

Geerten van de Kaa (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6332-9.ch002


This chapter discusses the notion of “responsible innovation” and “value sensitive design”. It applies these notions to standardization and more specifically to standard selection. Based on earlier research (Van de Kaa, 2013; Van den Ende, Van de Kaa, Den Uyl, & De Vries, 2012), it is proposed that standards should be flexible to facilitate changes related to ethical and societal values. An acceptable standard can be achieved by involving users in the standard development process. The understanding of standardization and standard selection in particular can be improved by incorporating concepts and theories from the discipline of philosophy. This chapter discusses three conceptualizations of standard selection: market dominance, socio-political acceptance, and acceptability.
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1. Introduction

The standardization process can be broadly distinguished in three stages: standard development, standard selection, and standard implementation (Hesser, Feilzer, & de Vries, 2007). To date, researchers from multiple disciplines have studied these three stages using a multitude of methods and theoretical approaches. When studying the second stage, standard selection, researchers have focused on the process in which standards achieve dominance in the market. This involves both theory building studies (using mostly case studies) and theory testing studies (using e.g., surveys). In attempting to explain standard dominance, these scholars have applied different perspectives including evolutionary economics (Anderson & Tushman, 1990; Tushman & Anderson, 1986; Utterback & Abernathy, 1975), network economics (Farrell & Saloner, 1985; Katz & Shapiro, 1985), and innovation management (Schilling, 1998; Suarez, 2004). In these studies, the emphasis is on standard selection in terms of market share. Scholars offer different strategies that can be applied to positively influence the installed base (market share) given the existence of network effects. Standard selection can also be reached when standards are institutionalized (e.g., enforced by regulators) leading to socio-political acceptance1 of standards. Essentially, there are two conceptualizations of standards selection: standard dominance in the market and socio political acceptance / institutionalization of standards.

This chapter applies a novel discipline to standardization: ‘philosophy’ or more specifically ‘ethics of technology’. Standard selection can also be studied in terms of notions such as ‘value sensitive design’ and ‘responsible research and innovation’. By incorporating these concepts, our understanding of standardization in general and standard selection in particular can be improved.

Recently, there has been increased attention for responsible research and innovation, as evident by Horizon 2020 (European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation). Researchers have also begun to focus on responsible research and innovation (Owen, Macnaghten, & Stilgoe, 2012; Stilgoe, Owen, & Macnaghten, 2013). Recently, a paper published in the International Journal of IT Standard and Standardization Research referred to the concepts of responsible innovation and value sensitive design in relation to standardization (Van de Kaa, 2013). This chapter is an extension of that paper. The paper refers to the Kaleidoscope conference in 2013 and the role of standards: “sustainable communities will combine human-oriented technologies and human values […] for this to occur, standards are indispensable” (Van de Kaa, 2013). As argued before (Van de Kaa, 2013) this might be reached by applying concepts and methods from the area of responsible research and innovation. According to Van de Kaa (2013): “standards should be developed according to the principles of value sensitive design […] during its development and after its realization, a standard should be flexible to facilitate changes related to ethical and societal values surrounding the technology (such as privacy, security, and reliability).”(Von Schomberg, 2011).

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