Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1323–1334 | Cite as

Actor networks and the construction of applicable knowledge: the case of the Timbre Brownfield Prioritization Tool

  • Filip Alexandrescu
  • Petr KlusáčekEmail author
  • Stephan Bartke
  • Robert Osman
  • Bohumil Frantál
  • Stanislav Martinát
  • Josef Kunc
  • Lisa Pizzol
  • Alex Zabeo
  • Elisa Giubilato
  • Andrea Critto
  • Alena Bleicher
Original Paper


This article deals with experiences acquired during the process of developing the Timbre Brownfield Prioritization Tool (TBPT). Developing a decision support tool that takes into account the expectations and experiences of its potential users is similar to creating applicable knowledge by the joint action of scientists and heterogeneous actors. Actor network theory is used to explore the construction of this form of applicable knowledge as a process of actor network creation. Following the French sociologist Callon, networks are seen to be initiated and carried out by a group of scientists (tool developers) via four moments of translation, called problematization, interessement, enrolment and mobilization. Each step in the construction of the TBPT—from the initial research question to the final model—can be linked in retrospect to changing configurations of actor networks. Based on the experiences of the tool developers in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Romania, we illustrate how these configurations varied across space and time. This contribution emphasizes the ability to correlate gains in knowledge with the more visible changes in the scope of actor networks in order to highlight achievements but also limitations in acquiring applicable knowledge.


Actor network theory Applicable knowledge Brownfield prioritization Four moments of translation End-users Timbre research project 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support for the research leading to this article. This work was supported by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme in the theme ENV.2010.3.1.5-2—Environmental technologies for brownfield regeneration: project Timbre—Tailored Improvement of Brownfield Regeneration in Europe (Grant No. 265364). The sponsor had neither influence on the study design nor any involvement in the collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, in writing the report or in the decision to submit the report for publication. The work was also enabled by the Czech Science Foundation (Geography of recycling of urban space, 17-26934S). We are, moreover, grateful for valuable comments to members of the Timbre International Advisory Board, two anonymous reviewers and the editorial team. We are also thankful to all our respondents who have shared their insights with us and in particular to the late Teodor Sileam. The “Timbre Brownfield Prioritization Tool” is available for end-users for free after registration at the following internet address:


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filip Alexandrescu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Petr Klusáček
    • 3
    Email author
  • Stephan Bartke
    • 4
    • 5
  • Robert Osman
    • 3
  • Bohumil Frantál
    • 3
  • Stanislav Martinát
    • 3
    • 6
  • Josef Kunc
    • 3
  • Lisa Pizzol
    • 2
  • Alex Zabeo
    • 2
  • Elisa Giubilato
    • 2
  • Andrea Critto
    • 2
  • Alena Bleicher
    • 7
  1. 1.Research Institute for the Quality of LifeRomanian AcademyBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and StatisticsUniversity Ca’ Foscari of VeniceVeniceItaly
  3. 3.Institute of GeonicsAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsHelmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.German Environment AgencyDessau-RoßlauGermany
  6. 6.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  7. 7.Department of Urban and Environmental SociologyHelmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany

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