Science and technology need society. Research and technology have little chance of influencing development if they do not anticipate societal effects and responses. Universities, research centres and technology institutes invest in a good relationship with the public.
Engaging citizens creates a wider acceptance of (potentially) controversial scientific and technological developments. Policymakers therefore create platforms and processes for public engagement, as is the case, for example, with nanotechnology.
Acceptance may refer to norms or ethical principles but may also be effective from a purely commercial concern. The consultation of potential customers at the early phase of product design often is a major step to success. An example is the Boeing 777 aircraft, developed in close consultation with eight major airlines. Client-oriented technology development and participatory research are global phenomena.
The participatory agenda for science and technology is pushed by supra-national networks of companies, governmental bodies and nongovernmental organisations. It is also global in the sense that programmes to support participatory research and technology development can be found in countries across all continents.