Open Science and Open Innovation in socio-political context: Knowledge production and societal impact in an age of populism

Palie Smart, Sue Holmes, Fiona Lettice, Gregory Schwartz, Jeremy Zwiegelaar, Frederick Harry Pitts, Steve Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


This conceptual paper traces the origins and progress of Open Science and proposes its generative coupling to Open Innovation in the contemporary socio-political context; where universities are re-imaging their civic missions in the face of anti-establishment populist politics. This setting is one of changing knowledge production regimes and institutional pressures that create contradictions identifiable through the prism of the series of scientific norms conceptualised by Robert K. Merton. This paper privileges a sociological perspective to proffer scientific knowledge production as a societally embedded process, which is well illustrated by scholarship in the Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Science in Society fields. In doing so, it identifies the co-evolution, co-existence and co-production of Open Science with Open Innovation; and notes how it shares the attributes of other recent diagnoses of changing knowledge production regimes; in particular Mode 2, post-normal science and the Quadruple Helix. It also argues that Open Science can be coupled with Open Innovation to catalyse positive societal change, but that the rise of a populist post-truth era opposed to objectivity, expertise and technocratic political solutions gives the demand for openness and participation a different complexion. Merton’s norms provide a useful lens to observe recent shifts in the delivery of science, knowledge and innovation in society towards more inclusive, ethical and sustainable outcomes; and expose the limited reflection on how the appropriation and exploitation of open scientific knowledge encounters industrial R&D and Open Innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalR & D Management
Issue number3
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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