The Governance of Socio-Technical Systems
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The Governance of Socio-Technical Systems

Explaining Change

Edited by Susana Borrás and Jakob Edler

Examining the “who” (agents), “how” (policy instruments) and “why” (societal legitimacy) of the governance process, this book presents a conceptual framework about the governance of change in socio-technical systems. Bridging the gap between disciplinary fields, expert contributions provide innovative empirical cases of different modes of governing change. The Governance of Socio-Technical Systems offers a stepping-stone towards building a theory of governance of change and presents a new research agenda on the interaction between science, technology and society.
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Chapter 2: The governance of change in socio-technical and innovation systems: three pillars for a conceptual framework

Susana Borrás and Jakob Edler


Chapter 1 reviewed succinctly the implicit views on governance in the vast literature dedicated to socio-technical change, identified the research gaps associated with conceptual indeterminacy, and clarified and defined a workable notion of ‘governance of change in innovation and socio-technical systems’. In this chapter we turn to the exercise of preliminarily developing what we see as a basis for a conceptual framework. With this purpose in mind, we suggest focusing on three pillars: the opportunity structures and capable agents in a system, the instrumentation of governance of change, and the legitimacy and acceptance of change. The reader might immediately ask: why these three and not others? Naturally, this precise line up and combination of pillars is a subjective choice from our side. However, we have two overall arguments for this choice. First, while all three items or pillars can be found already in the literature in various forms, they have never been defined together as part of a consolidated analytical framework focused on the governance of change. Bringing them together not only makes the existing different dimensions of this complex phenomenon of system change more explicit, but gives emphasis to specific axioms that have rarely been put forward and upon which these previous studies are based. We do not imply that all different approaches can be simply juxtaposed.

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