Edited by Frank Boons and Andrew McMeekin
Chapter 13: The role of users in sustainable innovation
The adoption of sustainable innovations is a highly dynamic process with uncertain outcomes. In order for the sustainability promises to materialize, users will play a key role as they have to embed these innovations in their daily practices and create (more) sustainable lifestyles. We present a typology of user roles in sustainable innovation: users can be active or passive, contribute as individual or collective, or act as enable or barrier. This typology presents a balanced and symmetric overview of all possible user roles, proposed in the literature. We also present and comment on a typology of positive user roles in sustainability transitions, proposed by Schot et al. This approach offers a long-term perspective on user roles, complementary to what is usually done in innovation studies; it credits users with more (distributed) agency. It also helps to identify new options for interventions in sustainable innovation and transition processes.
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