Innogen · Research · Current projects
Interests and Values in Risk-Related Stakeholder Interactions

Ann Bruce

Principal investigator(s):   Joyce Tait

Affiliated staff:   Sarah Cunningham-Burley   Graeme Laurie   Donald MacKenzie

October 1 2002 – September 30 2005


Distinctions between the ‘interests’ and ‘values’ of protagonists in risk debates are important for the understanding, prevention and resolution of conflicts. This project, which contributes to Innogen Centre’s ‘Risk, Governance and Regulation of Genomics’ theme, aims to explore the way in which ‘values’ and ‘interests’ motivate responses in debates in the genomics area.

Aims and objectives

  • Can we identify ‘interest’-based and ‘value’-based arguments in a range of genomics applications?
  • Are these framings critical in determining the acceptability or not of a genomics Application?
  • What methods can be used to explore the ‘values’ and ‘interests’ dimensions of biotechnology related controversies.
  • How are these dimensions reflected in debates around different controversies in genomics, including genetic databases, stem cell therapies and GM animals?
  • How are ‘values’ and ‘interests’ incorporated in the innovation and policy processes?

Research methods

Case Study methodology, including in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. Focusing particularly on protagonists with different viewpoints on the issue.

Our research will improve decision making and dispute resolution by improving the level of understanding of the ‘values’ and ‘interests’ dimensions of disputes.

Key findings

  • Presentation of preliminary thoughts on this subject to the Values in Decisions on Risk conference, Stockholm, Sweden in 2003, using the example of Genetically Modified crops.
  • During 2004, we produced a paper analysing the ‘values’ and ‘interests’ dimensions of developments in population genetic databases, based on a literature review and informed by interviews with stakeholders which was presented at The XVIII European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare: Genetics and Healthcare, Iceland, August 2004.
  • A 2-day public interest and ethical stakeholders workshop for policy makers, industry representatives, scientists and social scientists to engage with the issues of what values come into play when scientists and companies make innovations in bio sciences or when policy decisions are made, and how do these reflect or conflict with wider public concerns? This ‘Chatham House’ event provoked a rich discussion among the participants.  A short report from this workshop was disseminated via the Innogen web site and a book chapter in collaboration with AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law. The theme was further developed at the 2005 Innogen international conference with a session on ethical and stakeholder pressures on the pharmaceutical industry and how the industry has responded to these Pressures.
  • Investigations have continued in the field of cloned and GM animals and also in stem cell research where 26 interviews have been carried out with key stakeholders, including research scientists, patient advocacy groups, policy makers, industrialists and antagonists of stem cell research. A typology of case studies is being developed.


Bruce, A. (2007) The public domain: ideology vs. interest, pp 200-210 in Waelde, C. and MacQueen, H. (eds) The Many Faces of the Public Domain, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton MA, USA.

Bruce, A and Tait, J (2004) Interests, values and genetic databases, in Arnason, G. Nordal, S and Arnason, V Blood and Data: Ethical, legal and social aspects of human genetic databases, International ELSAGEN Conference Proceedings, Reykjavik, pp 211-217

Bruce, A and Tait, J (2003) Interests, values and Biotechnological Risk, in Andersson, K (ed) VALDOR 2003 Values in Decisions on Risk Proceedings, pp. 109-118.

Haddow, G., Cunningham-Burley, S. Bruce, A. and Parry, S. (2007) Resolving public concerns: why population genetic databases require an early consultative ear and a strong legislative arm. Critical Health Technology (in press)

Bruce, A. (2007) How now cloned cow? submitted to special issue of Genomics, Society and Policy, Vol 3, No.2

Further information

For further information contact Ann Bruce,