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 9: The who, what, how and why of governing change: first lessons and ways forward

Susana Borrás and Jakob Edler


This book brings forward a focus on the governance of change in socio-technical and innovation systems. In Chapter 1 we defined the governance of change in ST & I systems as the way in which societal and state actors intentionally interact in order to transform ST & I systems by regulating issues of societal concern, defining the processes and direction of how technological artefacts and innovations are produced, and shaping how these are introduced, absorbed, diffused and used within society and the economy. While our approach to the governance of change acknowledges the normative dimensions of ‘governance’, it emphasizes its analytical dimension for studying these complex societal and political processes. In order to do so, we have first proposed a simple typology of governance situations and then developed a conceptual framework based on three interrelated pillars: the opportunity structures and capable agents, governance instrumentation and democratic legitimacy. These three pillars constitute the theoretical foundations from which a set of specific questions are formulated in order to focus the study of system’s change on the study of the underlying governance processes and dynamics. The starting point for this book was the observation that the literature has not provided a well-organized focus on the underlying processes and conditions for governance of change in socio-technical and innovation systems. We organized the analytical questions posed at the beginning of this book around these three pillars.

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