‘Don’t make nanotechnology sexy, ensure its benefits, and be neutral’: Studying the logics of new intermediary institutions in ambiguous governance contexts
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScience and Public Policy 2013, 40(4):466-478 10.1093/scipol/sct054
This paper suggests a new theoretical approach to study intermediary institutions, particularly intermediary institutions at the science policy nexus. These intermediary institutions that have a mediating role between science and politics have often been approached from the perspective of ‘boundary organizations’. But this model, that incorporates assumptions of principal-agent theory, is not fit for capturing case studies (of intermediary institutions) in ambiguous governance contexts. I argue that to understand new intermediary institutions, we need a new theoretical vocabulary to grasp how intermediary institutions emerge and how they work in practice. For example, discourses such as ‘responsible development of innovation’ can sediment in new institutional settings, including for example new monitoring and observatory institutions. However, there is a lack of systemic studies of the material implications that the rise of these new governance actors –such as intermediary institutions—has for governing emerging technologies. This paper addresses this gap by analysing the shortcomings of a nanotechnology observatory project. Along the example of this observatory institution for nanotechnology, I will show that political discourse theory allows us to explain critically the conditions of possibility for the emergence of such institutions. Complemented with actor-network theory, these anti-essentialising approaches help us to see the materiality ofintermediary governance actors.
This is the authors accepted and refereed manuscript to the article. Locked until 2015-08-04