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The interplay of institutions, actors and technologies in socio-technical systems – An analysis of transformations in the Australian urban water sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change (103), 298-312.

Fünfschilling, Lea LU and Truffer, Bernhard (2016) In Technological Forecasting & Social Change 103. p.298-298
Abstract
Literature on socio-technical transitions has primarily emphasized the co-determination of institutions and technologies. In this paper, we want to focus on how actors play a mediating role between these two pillars of a socio-technical system. By introducing the theoretical concept of institutional work, we contribute to the conceptualization and empirical assessment of agency processes in socio-technical systems. We illustrate this approach by analyzing recent developments in the Australian urban water sector, where seawater desalination technology has experienced an unexpected, but rapid diffusion to all major cities, often interpreted as a reaction to a major multi-year drought. However, the drought broke and left all but one plant... (More)
Literature on socio-technical transitions has primarily emphasized the co-determination of institutions and technologies. In this paper, we want to focus on how actors play a mediating role between these two pillars of a socio-technical system. By introducing the theoretical concept of institutional work, we contribute to the conceptualization and empirical assessment of agency processes in socio-technical systems. We illustrate this approach by analyzing recent developments in the Australian urban water sector, where seawater desalination technology has experienced an unexpected, but rapid diffusion to all major cities, often interpreted as a reaction to a major multi-year drought. However, the drought broke and left all but one plant unused. This has led many commentators wonder how such a massive investment – which is likely to limit alternative development trajectories in the sector for the coming decades – could have happened so quickly and why other, potentially more sustainable technologies, have not been able to use the momentum of the crisis to break through. A comparative analysis between seawater desalination and its main rival wastewater recycling in regard to processes of institutional work provides valuable insight into how technology, actors and institutions mutually shaped each other. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Sustainability Transitions, Embedded agency, Institutional Work
in
Technological Forecasting & Social Change
volume
103
pages
312 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84949256337
ISSN
0040-1625
DOI
10.1016/j.techfore.2015.11.023
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4982862b-df09-44f5-b043-61c859ec8c35
date added to LUP
2016-06-16 11:27:29
date last changed
2019-04-23 03:38:19
@article{4982862b-df09-44f5-b043-61c859ec8c35,
  abstract     = {Literature on socio-technical transitions has primarily emphasized the co-determination of institutions and technologies. In this paper, we want to focus on how actors play a mediating role between these two pillars of a socio-technical system. By introducing the theoretical concept of institutional work, we contribute to the conceptualization and empirical assessment of agency processes in socio-technical systems. We illustrate this approach by analyzing recent developments in the Australian urban water sector, where seawater desalination technology has experienced an unexpected, but rapid diffusion to all major cities, often interpreted as a reaction to a major multi-year drought. However, the drought broke and left all but one plant unused. This has led many commentators wonder how such a massive investment – which is likely to limit alternative development trajectories in the sector for the coming decades – could have happened so quickly and why other, potentially more sustainable technologies, have not been able to use the momentum of the crisis to break through. A comparative analysis between seawater desalination and its main rival wastewater recycling in regard to processes of institutional work provides valuable insight into how technology, actors and institutions mutually shaped each other.},
  author       = {Fünfschilling, Lea and Truffer, Bernhard},
  issn         = {0040-1625},
  keyword      = {Sustainability Transitions,Embedded agency,Institutional Work},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {298--298},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Technological Forecasting & Social Change},
  title        = {The interplay of institutions, actors and technologies in socio-technical systems – An analysis of transformations in the Australian urban water sector. Technological Forecasting and Social Change (103), 298-312.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2015.11.023},
  volume       = {103},
  year         = {2016},
}