Before designing the governance framework, it is paramount to conceptualize overarching characteristics of the domain that the framework should be applied to. Of course, the meta-governance approach, with its procedural take, means that it does not make sense to be extremely specific in defining a governance field including specific stakeholders, mechanisms, policies etc. We tackled this complication by focusing on the notion of ‘practices’ and ‘governance arenas’. This led us to developing a worldview on science diplomacy which was detailed in a policy brief by (Aukes et al. 2020).
In the following development of the actual principles for the governance framework, the idea of ‘tensions’ helped our thinking. Intuitively defined as a somehow problematic situation arising from the interaction of specific forces following their own objectives, and therefore potentially blocking smooth transboundary knowledge flows, we distilled such tension situations from the results. Analysing the case reports, the matters analysis and policy reports published in the course of S4D4C then yielded a set of twelve principles that science diplomacy activities should heed.
This process can be characterised as an abductive design process, rather than a deductive one in the naturalist tradition. Abductive research processes often entail “simultaneously puzzling over empirical materials and theoretical literatures” (Schwartz-Shea and Yanow 2012, 27). This leads to a back and forth of considering empirical realities and comparing them with prior knowledge and experiences (in this case of policy and innovation scientists) (Charmaz 2006). We applied this by co-developing the principles together with the analysis of the data and deliberating them in the co-creation workshops with practitioners. Plausible and useful solutions to the puzzles found in the data were sculpted into the definitive principles by means of an iterative-recursive trial-and-error process from the data to the principles-in-the-making and back. Hence, the principles came into being through what has been called “interpretive moments” – the immersion in the context of the puzzle at hand combined with personal (scientific) experience (cf. Torgerson 1986).