Creatively Interpreting Policy to Move Science Forward: Implementing Participatory Technology Assessment at NASA

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Entrepreneurial strategies and tactics are often subtle and indiscrete, adding to the mystery of how one goes about being an entrepreneur, particularly within bureaucratic agencies that are often set up to constrain such behaviors. The authors use a case study of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s public engagement practices to examine how entrepreneurs shift policy interpretations with administrative agencies. Findings describe three entrepreneurial strategies and tactics: (1) using one-on-one or small group meetings to connect to different audiences across organizations; (2) tying new policy interpretations to existing ones, so changes seem less radical; and, (3) positioning oneself in the middle of the action to control both narrative and progress. Conclusions discuss both practical mechanisms for shifting away from the status quo, and the theoretical contributions to a growing body of literature on strategic and tactical approaches of bureaucratic entrepreneurs in democratic systems.