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Robin Williams

This chapter explores the institutional divergence between two fields today described as Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Innovation Studies (IS), rooted in their differing orientations towards modernity and to external audiences. IS scholars adopted positivistic epistemologies and pursued large-scale and often quantitative research methods to generate a robust evidence base for generalisable policy lessons for promoting innovation. STS scholars adopted qualitative (e.g. ethnographic and historical) methods to highlight the diverse voices of those involved in/affected by the modernist project. These differing political commitments and intellectual missions shaped their approaches to policy intervention: for example, National Systems of Innovation theory (IS) and Responsible Research and Innovation (STS). The recent renewal of the IS research agenda by revisiting its roots in historical and contextual explanation of the factors shaping innovation processes, highlights the scope for productive engagement between these two traditions. However, no simple (re)convergence is likely given their contrasting epistemic stances.

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James Stewart and Robin Williams