by Sebastian Rohe and Camilla Chlebna
In transition studies, formal inter-organizational networks – ‘networking organizations’ – are considered essential for inducing socio-technical change. Yet, there is little research on how their structural composition and role evolve in advanced transitions and which tensions arise over time. We address these gaps by combining insights from network research in social and economic science with transition studies, where networking organizations are conceptualized as intermediaries and key elements of Technological Innovation Systems. We synthesize a framework capturing the evolution of and resulting tensions within networking organizations in sustainability transitions. It is applied to two regional energy networking organizations from Germany. We draw on qualitative expert interviews and a complementary social network analysis. We show that networking organizations do not necessarily stabilize once the initial technologies they were centered around become established. Instead, their member base broadens to different sectors. This can lead to tensions over the networking organizations’ scope. Tensions also arise from misalignments between ‘private’ goals of member firms and the ‘public’ goal of transforming system-level structures. Furthermore, complementary or competing networking organizations might emerge during the transition. Managers need to navigate these tensions and regularly review the networking organization’s mission to maintain its relevance in the transition process.
Download paper: The evolving role of networking organizations in advanced sustainability transitions
Cite as: Rohe S. and Chlebna C. (2021) The evolving role of networking organizations in advanced sustainability transitions. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(04), 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.