The results of innovation have ethical implications.
Since Ulrich Beck’s path breaking book on risk society and
Hans Jonas’ discussion on the heuristic of fear and the
priority of the prophecy of doom the link between (mainly technological)
innovation and ethics is broadly accepted and discussed. Issues
such as respect for human dignity of the actively involved and
passively affected stakeholders, the public disclosure of the
research goals and agenda, or the balanced analysis of harms and
benefits have become key aspects of discussions on innovation.
Innovations are loaded with meaning only by the society in which
they happen and in which they lead to results.
However, the ethical dimension of innovation is not sufficiently
covered by a thorough analysis of the output-dimension of innovation.
Innovation has an ethical dimension in form of a cultural input,
too. This ethical aspect of innovation has found less attention
in scientific debates. Innovativeness emerges from the contexts
in which individual actors and groups of actors are embedded and
which influence their behavior. We normally refer to that context
in terms of culture. Culture consists of what Alexis de Tocqueville
described as the “habits of the heart”, which is the
customs, habits, norms, values, and shared views of reality, expressed
in a specific behavior of individuals and groups. Innovation results
from the cooperation of individuals who have to bring in certain
habits of the heart such as the disposition for collaboration,
mutual trust or ego-transcendence. Innovation needs what Jürgen
Habermas once called a “supportive spirit” of the
This will probably be especially true for the innovativeness
of highly demanding cooperation in networks. Networks have been
discussed as a form of organization that is favorable for innovation.
It has been shown, for instance, that competing scientific teams
need more time to come to results than networked scientific teams.
These networks are favorable for innovation especially, if they
integrate a broad diversity of knowledge and experience delivering
the opportunity to integrate pieces of information that are more
diverse. More and more co-operations in and between companies,
of scientists or civil society activists are following the network
logic, mashing more or less autonomous entities. Spanning a wide
range of diverse localities, these network activities take place
in a highly diversified local environment or directly in a virtual
The workshop will deal with the ethical preconditions of network
innovativeness on the level of the individual actor and the organization.
Proposals are invited that cover for instance the following questions:
- Autonomy, diversity, tolerance, courage and open communication
have been discussed as promoters of innovativeness in networks.
What are the moral predispositions of cooperating actors in
a network that promote innovativess? How can virtue ethics contribute
to a closer understanding of innovativeness or what might be
the contribution of a Habermasian discourse ethics approach?
- Participative structures, flat hierarchies or group heterogeneity
or a climate of trust have been identified as potential organizational
promoter of a culture of innovativeness. How can organizational
ethics contribute to clarify these preconditions of innovation?
- It can be assumed that the performance of a diverse team
operating in transnational networks depends on their ability
to create a shared framework of values, a shared goal and at
least overlapping interpretations of the surrounding reality.
How do transnationally operating networks establish these rules
and values and what is the impact of shared standards on the
innovativeness of cooperation?