Long presented as a universal policy-recipe for social prosperity and economic growth, the promise of innovation seems to be increasingly in question, giving way to a new vision of progress in which society is advanced as a central enabler of technoeconomic development. Frameworks such as “Responsible” or “Mission-oriented” Innovation, for example, have become commonplace parlance and practice in the governance of the innovation–society nexus. In this paper, we study the dynamics by which this “social fix” to technoscience has gained legitimacy in institutions of global governance by investigating recent projects at two international organizations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission, to mainstream “Responsible Innovation” frameworks and instruments across countries. Our analysis shows how the turn to societal participation in both organizations relies on a new deficit logic—a democratic deficit of innovation—that frames a lack of societal engagement in innovation governance as a major barrier to the uptake and dissemination of new technologies. These deficit politics enable global governance institutions to present “Responsible Innovation” frameworks as the solution and to claim authority over the coproduction of particular forms of democracy and innovation as intertwined pillars of a market-liberal international order.

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