Conceptualizing responsible innovation in craft villages in Vietnam

J. Voeten, J.A.C. de Haan, N. Roome, G.A. de Groot, Huong Nguyen Thi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research by the authors has explored small-scale innovations in poor craft producers’ clusters in villages in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. Although these innovations resulted in value creation and increased incomes, they also often gave rise to negative environmental or social consequences that were in conflict with broader development goals, such as poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Innovation that meets these goals is broadly termed responsible innovation and increasingly made explicit in western innovation debates. This chapter seeks to conceptualize responsible innovation in a very different context; that of informally organized small producers’ clusters in a developing country (Vietnam). We employed grounded theory to investigate the outcomes of innovations with a view to developing a set of objective operational criteria for evaluating responsible innovation. However, we found that such an ‘outcomes’ approach posed epistemological problems when it came to defining criteria and objectively measurable threshold values. We also found that objective measurements imposed a normative framework on the communities we were studying: one that villagers did not necessarily recognize or concur with. As an alternative, we came to conceptualize responsible innovation from a behavioral perspective and modeled it as a dynamic societal process that involves innovators acknowledging responsibility in the resolution of societal conflicts resulting from the harmful outcomes of innovation. This model enabled us to differentiate between responsible and what it is not at the village level.

The study was made possible by a grant for a research programme on responsible innovation from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) that was jointly carried out by Tilburg University and Hanoi University of Technology (Vietnam).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponsible Innovation 1
Subtitle of host publicationInnovative Solutions for Global Issues
EditorsJ. van den Hoven, N. Doorn, T. Swierstra, B.-J. Koops, H. Romijn
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Science | Business Media B.V.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9789401789561
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2014


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