Introducing ethical theory to the triple helix model: Supererogatory acts in crisis innovation

Steffan James, Zheng Liu*, Gareth White, Anthony Samuel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Triple Helix has been widely discussed as a means of enabling innovation and economic development. Yet, despite the presence of a considerable corpus of literature, little is known about its functioning during times of crisis and the ethical dimensions of the relationships between the individuals of which it is comprised. This study addresses this gap through examining the interoperation of university, industry and government to respond to a social and economic emergency.

Drawing upon the ethical theory of supererogation and evidence from three projects to innovate and develop medical devices, the paper makes important observations. First, the interoperation of Triple Helix appears perdurable under crisis conditions. Second, the micro-relations between individual actors enabled the ideation of new devices, the identification of resources and the minimisation of bureaucratic obstacles. Third, the micro-relational behaviours manifested as supererogatory acts between individuals. Collectively, these findings contribute to our understanding of Triple Helix beyond steady-state conditions and introduces an ethic-theoretical dimension to its examination that characterizes the nature of micro-relations between institutional actors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102832
Number of pages10
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Aug 2023


  • Triple Helix
  • crisis
  • ethics
  • Supererogation
  • Micro-relations


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