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Ambiguities and challenges in the functions approach to TIS analysis: a critical literature review
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project management, Innovations and Entrepreneurship . Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1952-902X
2012 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper focuses on an approach often used in empirical studies of sustainable transitions: the functions of technological innovation system approach. After its introduction by Johnson and Jacobsson (2001), the functions approach has reached a quite widespread diffusion among innovation scholars, especially those interested in sustainability. However, during this diffusion process, the approach has to some extent been “re-invented” (Rogers, 1983) by its users, and many of the original definitions and assumptions are no longer applied. In order to take stock of the work so far and suggest possible avenues for further research in this field, the purpose of this paper is to identify similarities and differences in how the functions approach is applied by different (groups of) researchers. The paper first gives an overview of the functions literature and then critically reviews it. A clear lack of agreement between researchers is identified with regards to how the concepts of ‘function’ and ‘functionality’ are defined and conceptualised. Based on this analysis, the paper discusses the implications of this lack of agreement and identifies a number of critical choices that have to be made by individual researchers, but possibly also by the ‘functions’ community as a whole, in order to increase the lucidity and applicability of the functions approach to TIS analysis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
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Engineering and Technology Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79428OAI: diva2:541668
IST 2012 - International Conference on Sustainability Transitions, 29-31 August, Copenhagen, Denmark
Available from: 2012-07-21 Created: 2012-07-21 Last updated: 2014-10-08

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Bergek, Anna
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Project management, Innovations and Entrepreneurship The Institute of Technology
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