Innovation assessment: governing through periods of disruptive technological change

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Series Details Volume 25, Number 12, Pages 1855-1873
Publication Date December 2018
ISSN 1350-1763 (print) | 1466-4429 (online)
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Current regulatory approaches are ill-equipped to address the challenges of governing through periods of disruptive technological change. This article hones in on the use of assessment regimes at the level of the European Union, particularly in the work of the Commission, to argue for a missing middle between technology assessment and impact assessment.

Technology assessment focuses on the upstream governance of science and technology, while impact assessment focuses on the downstream governance of the impacts of specific policy options. What is missing is a form of midstream governance, which I label innovation assessment, to steer polities through periods of disruptive technological change, during which innovations have taken concrete forms and are beginning to diffuse, but still exhibit much scope for rapid, unexpected change and alternative trajectories of development. By juxtaposing these three forms of assessment regimes, I define the main dimensions along which they vary.

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