Towards a Typology of Intermediaries in Transitions: A Systematic Review

30 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017

See all articles by Paula Kivimaa

Paula Kivimaa

SPRU, University of Sussex; Government of the Republic of Finland - Finnish Environment Institute

Wouter Boon

Utrecht University - Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development

Sampsa Hyysalo

Aalto University

Laurens Klerkx

Wageningen UR

Date Written: September 8, 2017

Abstract

Intermediary actors have been proposed as key catalysts that speed up change towards more sustainable socio-technical systems. Research on this topic has gradually gained traction since 2009, but has been complicated by the inconsistency regarding what intermediaries are in the context of such transitions and which activities they focus on, or should focus on. This paper aims to bring more clarity to the topic of intermediaries in transitions, providing a typology that, beyond functions of intermediaries, is sensitive to different levels and phases of transitions, and the origin and emergence of intermediary actors. Based on a systematic review of academic scholarly articles, the paper identifies five different categories of intermediary actors that play a role in transitions based on their level of operation and origin, being insider/outsider, the level of agency, and the degree of neutrality. Some intermediaries are specifically set up to facilitate transitions, while others grow into the role of an intermediary during the process of sociotechnical change. On the basis of the study we argue that systemic and niche intermediaries are most crucial forms of intermediary actors in transitions, which should be also considered in planning future innovation governance frameworks. The paper further elaborates how intermediation occurs in pre-development, take-off, acceleration and embedding, and destabilisation phases. We note the lack of literature about intermediary activities in different phases of transition, in particular with respect to the acceleration and embedding phase. We, thus, suggest what kind of transition intermediaries are needed to better support the acceleration and embedding of innovations contributing to long-term sustainable development.

Keywords: sustainability transitions, innovation intermediaries, phases of transition, multilevel perspective

Suggested Citation

Kivimaa, Paula and Boon, Wouter and Hyysalo, Sampsa and Klerkx, Laurens, Towards a Typology of Intermediaries in Transitions: A Systematic Review (September 8, 2017). SWPS 2017-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3034188 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3034188

Paula Kivimaa (Contact Author)

SPRU, University of Sussex ( email )

Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL
United Kingdom

Government of the Republic of Finland - Finnish Environment Institute ( email )

00260 Helsinki
Finland

Wouter Boon

Utrecht University - Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development ( email )

Heidelberglann 2
3508 TC Utrecht
Netherlands

Sampsa Hyysalo

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

Laurens Klerkx

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

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