Technological development for sustainability: The role of network management in the innovation policy mix
Journal article, 2019

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.

Innovation policy mixes

Actor networks

Sustainable technological development

Network management

Biorefinery technology


Patrik Söderholm

Luleå University of Technology

Hans Hellsmark

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

J. Frishammar

Luleå University of Technology

Stockholm School of Economics

Julia Hansson

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Maritime Studies

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

J. Mossberg

Luleå University of Technology

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Annica Sandström

Luleå University of Technology

Technological Forecasting and Social Change

0040-1625 (ISSN)

Vol. 138 309-323

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Business Administration

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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