Liminal innovation practices: questioning three common assumptions in responsible innovation

Mayli Mertens (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Although the concept of Responsible Innovation (RI) has been applied to different types of innovations, three common assumptions have remained the same. First, emerging technologies require assessment because of their radical novelty and unpredictability. Second, early assessment is necessary to impact the innovation trajectory. Third, anticipation of unknowns is needed to prepare for the unpredictable. I argue that these assumptions do not hold for liminal innovation practices in clinical settings, which are defined by continuous transition on both sides of the threshold between experiment and implementation, and between research and care. First of all, technologies at the center of liminal innovation practices have different characteristics than those typically attributed to emerging technologies. Additionally, the innovation trajectory is significantly different allowing continuous assessment and shaping long after implementation. Finally, these differences demand a reorientation in RI approaches for these cases, away from anticipation of the unknown and uncertain, and returning to observation of the known and predictable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-298
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of responsible innovation
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • liminal innovation
  • Emerging technologies
  • Anticipation
  • Clinical practice
  • Postanoxic coma
  • Practice-based methods
  • Responsible innovation


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