Technological innovation projects usually involve many different stakeholders that have a ‘make-or-break’ influence. The government, for example, influences the development of technological innovations through regulations and subsidies. Private investors play a pivotal role in financing new projects, and the general public in the legitimization of technological innovations. Whether new technologies succeed or fail depends to a large extent on effective communication with these stakeholders.
This module addresses the development of technological innovations from a system and stakeholders perspective. Students learn about the key processes of innovation and the different stakeholders involved in those processes. The knowledge acquired serves as input for a communication strategy to advance the development and implementation of a specific innovation.
The general public is a crucial stakeholder in innovation projects. Students learn about motives, perspectives and interests, and how to influence the public using the heuristics of science communication and public relations. Furthermore, students work on a popular scientific magazine, setting up their own editorial office, to educate the general public about various technological innovations that have been developed at this university.
This module includes four components:
- 2.1 Project: Stakeholders and Technological Innovations
- 2.1 Theory: Science Communication & Public Relations
- 2.1 Research Methodology: Qualitative Methodology 2
- 2.1 Academic and Professional Skills: Popularizing Science
2.1 P: Stakeholders and Technological Innovations
The project consists of two parts. First, working in their project teams, the students write a strategic report on the development and implementation of a technological innovation developed at the University of Twente. The strategic report is based on the system perspective and a stakeholder analysis and focuses on how (in terms of means and messages) important stakeholders should be addressed.
Second, students are required to address the general public by creating a popular scientific magazine about technological innovations used in the first part of the project. Based on a media analysis and focus groups, students write a popular article about their innovation within their groups. With four other groups they form an editorial office, consisting of text editors, journalists and visual editors, to publish a complete magazine.
2.1 T: Science Communication and Public Relations
In this module component, students acquire an understanding of strategic communication theories and the technological innovation system perspective. Both paradigms are required by communication professionals to facilitate technological change. Strategic communication theories in this context consist of stakeholder management, public relations and science communication. The technological innovation system perspective covers the key processes of innovation, including: knowledge development, resource mobilization, legitimization, entrepreneurial experimentation, market formation, the influence of the direction of search and the development of positive externalities.
2.1 R: Qualitative Methodology 2
To understand the needs of the general public and how these should be approached, students are introduced to two qualitative research methods. By means of media analysis, which includes making a codebook and analysing a large number of media articles, students learn about the frames used by journalists to describe a technological innovation. Secondly, the students learn more about the perspectives, interests and motivations of the general public through focus groups. Students will make an interview scheme, guide participants through the focus group session, and code and analyse the answers. Both methods provide input for the popular scientific magazine.
2.1 S: Popularizing Science
In this module component, students will learn how to write and visualize innovations in an accessible way. Students learn how to write popular articles by applying the principles of journalism. From a designer perspective, students learn how to explain a technology using an infographic.