An Actor Dynamics Perspective of Socio-Technical Transitions
: The Case Study of Energy Efficient Projects in the Information Technology Sector

  • Sophie Lienart Van Lidth De Jeude

Student thesis: Doc typesDocteur en Sciences économiques et de gestion


The issue of energy efficiency is of key organization wide concern for many technology firms. Companies address such concerns by strategically integrating remedies in their business processes to ensure protection of their competitive advantage.
Technological product innovations are seen as an opportunity that companies may want to explore in order to achieve sustainable growth over an extended period.
However, in addressing the issue of energy efficiency, a strict technological artifact intervention needs to be subordinated to a socio-technical system in which it is embedded, and furthermore requires a shift in the socio-technical system towards a more energy efficient one. This shift is called a socio-technical transition to energy efficiency.
The multilevel perspective framework assists in explaining the complex and co-evolutionary dynamics of technological transitions. Such transitions of embedded technological artifacts take place in a socio-technical system through development and alignment at and between the following three analytical levels: socio-technical regime, niche-innovation and socio-technical landscape.
However, in evaluating socio-technical transitions in the organization, the multilevel perspective framework under addresses the topic of agency and its associated dynamics.
In light of this, we posed the following research question: how do actor dynamics underlying socio-technical transitions to energy efficiency arise and develop in the organization?
This research question incorporates actor-network theory, an interesting and relevant analytical framework. The actor-network theory accommodates the study of actors’ dynamics and co-shaping of their respective environments whether they are human or non-human.
We conducted an in-depth embedded case study at an established information technology company. Five energy efficiency oriented technological product innovation projects were examined under the lenses of the multilevel perspective and interpretive actor-network perspective.
Complementarity of the multilevel perspective and actor-network theory are noted in the organization when evaluating our researched socio-technical transitions. Furthermore, it is observed that contextually socio-technical transitions to energy efficiency arise and develop through varied transition pathways and translation processes. It emerges that agency is manifest through the attributes of power, legitimacy and urgency, which play a key role in the transformation of socio-technical system(s). These attributes are evident in the actor-network theory translation processes. It is the combination of one or more of these attributes by human and/or non-human actors that explains the development of a certain steady state of actor-network at the niche, regime level or between such levels.
The co-evolution process of technology and humans and their associated agency attributes are necessary predicates in explaining how and why socio-technical transitions to energy efficiency arise and develop in information technology organizations. Hence, this research contributes to Innovation Management by broadening the perspective adopted in studying innovation holistically.
la date de réponse20 juin 2016
langue originaleAnglais
L'institution diplômante
  • Universite de Namur
SuperviseurAnnick CASTIAUX (Promoteur), Alain DECROP (Président), Wafa Hammedi (Jury), Valérie Swaen (Jury), Dr P.R. Williams (Jury) & Marc Ingham (Jury)

Attachement à un institut de recherche reconnus à l'UNAMUR

  • NADI

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