Colloquium: Ethical Parallel Research or Consultancy?

TNO is a large RTO (Research and Technology Organisation) with 4500 employees. Research ranges from food safety to working relations and from GIS to perinatal care. TNO was established by law to do applied research for government, SME’s and larger companies. Within TNO I’m developing applied ethical research. Part of this research is a form of ethical parallel research within larger projects. This ethical parallel research is different from the university based ethical parallel research. These differences can be problematic. For example, the ethicist is part of a project team and therefore not independent. The ethicist can be critical, but should also be cooperative. Some ethical issues need to be resolved or decisions need to be made, so the project can go on. Reflection on the role of ethicists within an RTO such as TNO and within projects is necessary.