by Johan Miörner, Bernhard Truffer, Christian Binz, Jonas Heiberg and Xiao-Shan Yap
This working paper is part of the Socio-Technical Configuration Analysis (STCA) guidebook for beginners (see stca.guide). It serves as Chapter 1 of the guidebook, and introduces the conceptual and methodological foundations for the different analytical steps that are explained in subsequent chapters. We elaborate on the theoretical contexts in which socio-technical configurations, their dynamics and geographical variation play a key role and how this epistemological approach relates to well-established conceptual frameworks from innovation and transition studies. In STCA, statements or actions of actors that are reported in document stocks are aggregated into different forms of network or proximity map graphs, which can be interpreted as coherent storylines or strategies reflecting institutionalized socio-technical configurations shared by various actors. Shifts over time of these networks can then be interpreted as depicting transition dynamics, and comparisons across space as local variations of regime or innovation system structures. The paper introduces a coherent terminology to help researchers navigate through the different steps and software programs. It furthermore elaborates on a typology of research problems that can be analyzed through STCA and an overview on the generic steps that a researcher has to conduct when applying the method.
Download paper: Guidebook for applying the Socio-Technical Configuration Analysis method
Cite as: Miörner J., Truffer T., Binz C., Heiberg J. & Yap X.-S. (2022) Guidebook for applying the Socio-Technical Configuration Analysis method. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions 2022(01), GEIST Working Paper series.
by Johan Miörner, Jonas Heiberg and Christian Binz
Socio-technical regimes are potentially global sets of highly institutionalized rationalities that have co-evolved with actors, technologies and institutions. Transition studies features an extensive focus on regimes dynamics within specific territorial contexts. However, we know surprisingly little of how regime rationalities are constructed, diffused and reproduced across geographical contexts. This is a key gap in the literature on the geography of sustainability transitions, in explaining why transitions happen in some places and not in others. This paper introduces a conceptual model to analyze transformative opportunities in regions and how regime actors strategically diffuse and implement regime solutions through combinations of discursive- and system building activities. The empirical analysis draws upon a combination of Socio-Technical Configuration Analysis (STCA) of 354 newspaper articles and 10 in-depth interviews to illuminate how regime actors prevailed in diffusing and legitimizing the water sector’s dominant socio-technical configuration in San Diego during a period of substantial transformation pressure..
Download paper: Global regime diffusion in space: a missed transition in San Diego’s water sector
Cite as: Miörner J., Heiberg J. and Binz C. (2021) Global regime diffusion in space: a missed transition in San Diego’s water sector. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(08), GEIST Working Paper series.
by Jonas Heiberg and Bernhard Truffer
The technological innovation systems (TIS) framework is one of the dominant perspectives in transitions studies to analyze success conditions of newly emerging technologies and industries. Key conditions for innovation success reside in overcoming so-called system failures. So far, TIS studies mostly adopted a rather harmonious view on the values, goals and interests that motivate the different actors and by this were unable to address competition, conflicts and, in particular, battles over diverging directionalities within the system. To tackle this “harmony fallacy”, we propose an institutional logics based measure for “value-based proximities” among actors, which serve to identify the “degree of harmony” in the field. To operationalize these concepts, we apply socio-technical configuration analysis (STCA) based on transcripts from 26 interviews, covering the case of modular water technologies in Switzerland. Results indicate that value orientations crucially affect system failures, diverging technological preferences and collaboration patterns. Conflictual field logics may prevent the stabilization of system structures in a specific country and drive actors to engage in sub- or transnational networks. This analysis enables to inspire key conceptual tasks of innovation system analysis, like the identification of system failures, the setting of appropriate system boundaries and the formulation of better policy implications.
Download paper: Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems
Cite as: Heiberg J. and Truffer B. (2021) Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(03), GEIST Working Paper series.