Unscripted Responsible Research and Innovation: Adaptive space creation by an emerging RRI practice concerning juvenile justice interventions

Irja Marije de Jong*, Frank Kupper, Jacqueline Broerse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Emerging RRI practices have goals with respect to learning, governance and achieving RRI outcomes (action). However, few practices actually achieve the action phase as actors lack room to manoeuvre, and lack guidance on how to move forward because of the inherent unscriptedness of the emerging RRI practice. In this explorative research an emerging RRI practice is studied to identify factors and barriers to the creation of adaptive space, in which actors can be responsive to the other and adapt, and a narrative can be created in the act of doing. This paper describes how formal and informal ways of organizing emerging RRI practices contribute to adaptive space, and how the metaphorical heuristic of improvisational theatre provides clear action principles to actors involved in emerging RRI practices in action. The RRI practice studied here lies in the domain of juvenile justice, where barriers that restrict room to manoeuvre are abundant. Five factors – ‘informality over formality’, ‘shared action space’, ‘be flexible’, ‘keep the action moving’ and ‘put the relationship central’ – were identified to facilitate reflexivity and adaptation in this space..

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalLife Sciences, Society and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2018


The authors would like to thank Mike Powell for corrections in language and comments on readability. The wider research project Neurosciences in Dialogue was financially supported by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) within the thematic programme Responsible Innovation: Ethical and societal exploration of science and technology of the [grant number 700 313–99-180]. Data and materials consist of the first author’s daily journal and the transcriptions of the timeline interviews. Both contain information of a sensitive nature for the research collaboration studied in this paper: some of the information is sensitive to the collaboration itself, as participants were asked after their collaboration with their collaborative partners; other information is sensitive in a political manner. The juvenile justice institutions are under high scrutiny in the Netherlands, and as a result, they are experiencing a tumultuous decade. The politicized issue of juvenile delinquency and juvenile detainment, combined with austerity policies due to the economic crisis starting in 2008, has resulted in the announced closure of at least two of the total ten Dutch juvenile justice institutions, both of which happen to participate in the ACC research project described in this study. Moreover, juvenile justice institutions and their personnel have in the last ten years have had to deal with massive movements, have been criticized in newspapers, have been retrained, and are now facing major lay-offs. Some of the data could be abused for political reasons. Unfortunately, we can therefore not make our data and materials available. We would not have been able to undertake this research in the first place if we would.

FundersFunder number
Ethical and societal exploration of science and technology700 313–99-180
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek313-99-180


    • Adaptive space
    • Cognitive neuroscience
    • Juvenile justice institutions
    • Responsible research and innovation
    • Responsiveness


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