TEPSIE Project

Under the EC-funded project “The Theoretical, Empirical and Policy Foundations for Building Social Innovation in Europe” (TEPSIE), a typology for citizen engagement in the process of social innovation is proposed, which is easily applicable to the research process. This typology is based on the identification of two basic needs in research activities which PE may help cope with: 1) Informing about present states; 2) Developing future solutions.

Informing about present states refers to “all the ways that citizens can provide information about their current experiences”. This information is an essential input throughout the research process, including making the initial diagnosis, framing the questions, collecting data on the current situation, testing and implementing new solutions deriving from the research activity.

Developing future solutions refers to all kinds of engagement activity whereby citizens can contribute and shape new ideas. This information is of pivotal importance to anticipate the expected outputs of the research process, to contextualise it and to align research to the needs of society.

The method of PE can be different according to the scale of the PE process, i.e. if the players to be involved are few or many. This decision is to be taken on the basis of the research needs.

In the realm of informing the present state, “methods of engagement that involve many people offering information about their experiences are useful for identifying underlying patterns and trends. Others that can be performed with only a small number of citizens will yield rich, highly contextualised information”.

In the realm of developing future solutions, “engaging with large numbers of citizens can uncover many ideas from diverse sources. In other cases, it will be more appropriate to work with only a few citizens more intensively to develop solutions in detail”.

For each type of need, different PE methods can be envisaged. In the following scheme, the typology is presented, organised in four quadrants.

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This scheme can be useful to support researchers and research managers in better understanding the kind of involvement to be required to the public and stakeholders.

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