Innogen

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The National and International Policy Environment for Genomics

Catherine Lyall

Principal investigator(s):   Joyce Tait

Affiliated staff:   David Wield   Graeme Laurie

October 1 2002 – September 30 2007

Aims and objectives

This project sought greater understanding of some of the governance challenges posed by the life sciences. It explored whether new technologies (such as genomics) require new policy instruments and examined the links between governance and the creation of regulatory frameworks (including the extent to which the regulatory regime is being updated to take account of technological advances).

Research methods

Themes around the multi-level, multi-actor governance of innovation were explored via a number of routes including an edited book, workshops and conference sessions. Methods included documentary analysis (academic journal articles, policy documents and press articles) and in-depth interviews with relevant actors.

Key findings

Through a study of a number of UK government - industry “task forces” and global developments in drug regulation, we  identified two opposing trends in play which suggests that there are actually limits to the all pervasive notion of governance. 

This project extended the knowledge domain of multi-level governance studies, and developed theoretical links between the political studies and innovation studies approaches to the governance of science and technology.

An international network of researchers working in fields related to the governance of science and innovation developed as a result of activities organised under the aegis of this project.

The multi-faceted policy and regulatory situation that applies to the life sciences is leading to the existence of a government –governance continuum where different aspects of genomics and life science technologies sit at different points; contrasting the enduring role of the state in controlling and framing the context for the implementation of innovations in life sciences through the regulatory system with the more participative forms of policy-making being fostered to promote national competitiveness and encourage public acceptance of new technologies.

This raises questions about how ‘joined up’ it is reasonable to expect policies to be for quite distinct purposes (in the case of the life science industries, regulation vs. innovation and promotion).

This leads to tensions in the governance of the life sciences where policy-makers need simultaneously to:

  • Engage with a wider range of stakeholders
  • Base decisions on evidence
  • Reconcile conflicting views of that evidence in order to deliver greater transparency and understanding of new technology to wider publics and greater accountability of producers and users of that technology

Theoretical contributions

This project sought to extend the knowledge domain of multi-level governance studies, more usually reserved to the European policy context, into the area of STI policy and, in doing so, to develop theoretical links between the political studies and innovation studies approaches to the governance of science and technology.

Publications

Lyall, C. (2007), Governing Genomics: New Governance Tools for New Technologies? Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 19/3, pp. 365-382.

Lyall, C. (2007), Changing boundaries: the role of policy networks in the multi-level governance of science and innovation, Science and Public Policy, 34/1,pp. 3-14. 

Lyall C. and Tait J. (2004) Foresight in a Multi-level Governance Structure:  Policy Integration and Communication, Science and Public Policy, 31/1, pp. 27-37.  

Lyall C. and Tait J. (eds.) (2005), New Modes of Governance: Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Aldershot: Ashgate. 

Lyall C., Pappiannou, T. and Smith, J. (eds), The Limits to Governance: The Challenge of Policy-making for the Life Sciences (in preparation). 

Tait J., Chataway J., Lyall C. and Wield D. (2006) Governance, policy and industry strategies: pharmaceuticals and agro-biotechnology in Dosi, G. and Mazzucato, M. (eds.) Knowledge Accumulation and Industry Evolution: The Case of Pharma-Biotech, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 24

Lyall C. and Tait J. (2005), Shifting policy debates and the implications for governance in Lyall C. and Tait J. (eds.) New Modes of Governance: Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Aldershot: Ashgate, p.15 

Tait J. and Lyall, C. (2005), A new mode of governance for science, technology and innovation? in Lyall C. and Tait J. (eds.) New Modes of Governance: Developing an Integrated Policy Approach to Science, Technology, Risk and the Environment, Aldershot: Ashgate, p. 12

Further information

For further information contact Catherine Lyall, c.lyall@ed.ac.uk