Dr. Ganesh Nathan, Innovation Process and Ethics in Technology: Towards a Responsible Innovation Governance Framework

Dr. Ganesh Nathan, Professor

WiCaNem 2014 (11th Wageningen International Conference on Chain and Network Management) in Capri, Italy, 4-6 June. Dr. Ganesh Nathan presented a paper titled – Innovation Process and Ethics in Technology: Towards a Responsible Innovation Governance Framework – which was peer reviewed and well received within the special track of “Responsible Innovation”.  There were many scholars from various Universities in Europe who attended the conference.


Innovation governance models, dealing in general with organizational structure, innovation process, strategy and leadership, are becoming increasingly important for innovative companies within the changing complexity of innovation ecosystems. Traditionally, governance is related to risk management and corporate governance is concerned with the rules and conduct of management to minimize risks to shareholders. With the increasing importance of ethical concerns and issues of governance in general, and in particular with technological innovations for responsible innovation (Owen et al., 2013), this paper focuses on the need for technological innovation processes to embed an ethical decision-making framework with a view to responsible innovation governance.

The paper first shows that technological innovations cannot ignore ethical impacts on society and the environment. While technological innovations can on the one hand resolve ethical concerns, on the other they may raise new morally contentious issues (Nathan, 2014a). The technological innovation process is traditionally concerned with successful value-capturing through commercialization of innovative products and services. These may have various ethical impacts, both positive and negative. One of the critical problems within this context is the unpredictability and uncertainty of those negative ethical impacts. However, studies have been conducted on the potential negative impacts of emerging technologies, especially ICT and nanotechnology. Taking these into consideration, this paper goes on, second, to critique various innovation process models for technological innovations on their lack of ethical decision-making frameworks. Using this insight, the paper attempts to provide a closed loop (circular) innovation process model. Third, it shows the complexity of ethical decision-making, the importance of stakeholder dialogue, deliberation and engagement, and how management may integrate ethical decision-making in the innovation process. Finally, this paper concludes with some recommendations for a responsible innovation governance framework and suggests further directions for research into this growing important field of study.