Technological development for sustainability: The role of network management in the innovation policy mix.

Despite the key role of actor networks in progressing new sustainable technologies, there is a shortage of conceptual knowledge on how policy can help strengthen collaborative practices in such networks. The objective of this paper is to analyze the roles of such policies – so-called network management – throughout the entire technological development processes. The analysis draws on the public management and sustainability transitions literatures, and discusses how various network characteristics could affect the development of sustainable technologies, including how different categories of network management strategies could be deployed to influence actor collaborations. The paper's main contribution is an analytical framework that addresses the changing roles of network management at the interface between various phases of the technological development process, illustrated with the empirical case of advanced biorefinery technology development in Sweden. Furthermore, the analysis also addresses some challenges that policy makers are likely to encounter when pursuing network management strategies, and identifies a number of negative consequences of ignoring such instruments in the innovation policy mix. The latter include inefficient actor role-taking, the emergence of small, ineffective and competing actor networks in similar technological fields, and a shortage of interpretative knowledge.

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Last updated: 2021-06-24

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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