Making RRI sustainable in the long run
The project’s third Mutual Learning Workshop, held online on 20 and 21 May, provided partners with useful orientations about how to make the RRI-related actions initiated within GRACE sustainable in the long run and how to imagine the development of RRI after the project completion. Although the workshop was conceived to help each implementing organisation develop their specific approach to sustainability, various cross-cutting trends and issues emerged all the same.
The many legs of sustainability
One of the emerging points is that the sustainability of RRI rests on many legs. Discussion covered the following questions:
- How to develop effective governance arrangements to integrate RRI into the usual organizational routines?
- At the same time, how does one strengthen staff’s interest and mobilization and keep them alive over time to keep the RRI path going?
- How to get real support from leaders to keep RRI on the agenda?
- How to manage leadership turnover that can lead to serious setbacks for RRI?
All GRACE partners are addressing these problems to varying extents, looking for solutions tailored to their specific organizational environment, based on the results and opportunities developed during these 20 months of activity.
Sustainability, expertise, and practices
Ensuring sustainability also requires acquiring specific expertise and accessing knowledge on RRI practices.
During the workshop, partners dug deeper into issues that require specific knowledge and practices, such as the development of guidelines on public engagement for staff members, the implementation of gender equality plans, the inclusion of gender balance mechanisms in grant evaluation, the transfer of RRI-related knowledge from one internal department to another, the establishment of a monitoring system on public engagement activities, or the set-up and organisation of an ethics committee.
GRACE has undoubtedly been a valuable opportunity for all partners to learn about how to promote RRI. Nevertheless, after the project’s lifetime, the organisations implementing the RRI-oriented grounding actions will need to find a way to rapidly access expertise, knowledge, and ideas to feed the process. Hence the importance of connecting to the existing networks dealing with RRI or RRI keys, using the many relevant resources available and training those who will manage RRI in the organisation.
This reason led to organising a session precisely devoted to how to face the post-project period. A specific document – the Guidance document on RRI-oriented grounding actions – will be also developed to provide implementing organisations with orientations and resources to help them prepare these new challenges.
Negotiations were also an important issue frequently discussed in the workshop.
All in all, the core of RRI institutional change processes constitutes negotiations with the main stakeholders involved, such as researchers, leaders, administrative staff, other staff members,… GRACE partners shared how they have been engaged with negotiations, for example to demonstrate the importance of RRI, to define the problems to be addressed in priority, to select the most effective strategies to adopt, to define responsibilities, resources and tools to apply, or to ensure visibility to RRI within the organisation. Learning to negotiate, finding reliable allies, developing the most effective arguments and words, are, therefore, cross-cutting pivotal skills to acquire in order to fight resistance to change and to ensure continuity of the RRI action.
Luciano Andrea, Knowledge & Innovation