Technology, Innovation & Society

Research area
The Technology, Innovation & Society (TIS) group engages in research on the societal and economic embedding of innovation. Technological innovations offer many opportunities to address key societal challenges in areas like sustainable energy, mobility, globalization and Europeanization. However, change is not only about the mere availability of such innovative technologies (like renewable energy technologies or cleaner cars), but rather requires a transformation of existing socio-technical systems. This includes changes in firm strategies, consumer behavior, social practices, institutions and regulations, etc. Different aspects of such transition processes cannot be studied in isolation, but require a broader, systems-oriented perspective. In our view, society shapes technological progress, but technological progress also shapes our society. Technologies intertwine with radical transformations in work, travel, communication, and private life.

The TIS group aims to contribute to understanding the above phenomena through research that:

  • focuses on the interaction between technological, economic, and social developments
  • emphasizes pervasive, long term changes or ‘transitions’
  • addresses the developed as well as the developing world
  • addresses multiple aspects of the innovation journey – invention, innovation, diffusion,
  • appropriation, governance, policy intervention, and societal implications.

 Our focus is well reflected in our research output in scholarly journals in the 2010-2016 period: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (11 times), Technological forecasting and social change (10), Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions (10), Research Policy (9), Energy Policy, (9), Environmental Science and Policy (7), PLoS ONE (3), Industrial and Corporate Change (3) and Industry and Innovation (3).

Contribution to the School
In the context of the School’s research mission, the TIS group contributes to the understanding of innovation and transitions by conducting theoretical as well as qualitative and quantitative research. We do so by building our research on a combination of theoretical perspectives, including evolutionary economics and STS, and by looking at the historical, institutional, legal and user perspectives. In the past six years, the TIS group has made significant contributions to theory development and refinement (notable strategic niche management and multi-level perspective), as well as qualitative and quantitative research in the area of innovation and transitions. The involvement of societal groups and end users has been key in many of our studies, and has also resulted in new research methodologies and approaches. We have also contributed to policy development, for instance through Transition Management. For the coming years, our aim is to further build the link with technology (smart energy systems, mobility, etc.) and to apply our theoretical foundations to address sustainability challenges and creating appropriate governance / policy.

More information about the Technology, Innovation & Society Group can be found at their website.