How to Build a Socio-technical Map

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Business book series (BRIEFSBUSINESS)


In this chapter we show how a socio-technical map (ST-map) can be built in four steps. Graphical examples are taken from the case studies presented in Chaps.  3 6 of this book. In step 1 the field of analysis is determined: this is usually a whole societal function, such as feeding, housing, mobility. In step 2 the relevant systems and niches and their networks of innovators are identified: the dominant system (if any), other systems, and niches are represented differently into the ST-map. Also local systems and niches—when relevant—can be represented in a specific way. In step 3 the two dimensions of the ST-map are drawned. The first dimension usually represents the relevant political discourses on sustainability, that is, how the current and future sustainability of the analyzed societal function is interpreted by innovators. The second dimension of the ST-map usually represents the techno-economic competences that are leveraged by innovators to promote change. These may refer either to business or productive models, or to technologies. In step 4 all ST systems and niches are positioned into the ST-map. Such a positioning represents to which political discourse and to which techno-economic competence mostly refers the network of innovators of any given system or niche. Also the dominant policy (if any) can be positioned into the ST-map. The resulting ST-map can be used to represent either the current situation of a societal function or its prospective or retrospective dynamics. In the latter case the history of a societal function can be represented through a sequence of ST-maps, each referring to a single moment of relative stability of the societal function. Starting from the current ST-map and from the analysis of the current potential for change also scenarios can be built: these are represented as the result of the ‘demography’ of ST systems and their supportive networks.


Socio-technical map Socio-technical systems Network of innovators Political discourse Scenario analysis 

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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DiSEAUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.DICEAUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  3. 3.DIEMUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly

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