Lecture  /  October 22, 2020, 15:00

Mapping and measuring socio-technical transition dynamics by means of discourse network analysis

On October 22, 2020 Prof. Dr. Bernhard Truffer will be a virtual guest at Fraunhofer ISI. The lecture “Mapping and measuring socio-technical transition dynamics by means of discourse network analysis” will start at 15:00.


Innovation studies have mostly focused on how the ability of actors, regions and countries to generate and apply new technological knowledge influences innovation success. How these capabilities interact with processes of “value generation”, i.e. how markets are formed, technology is legitimated or resources are mobilized, has received much less attention.

One reason for this imbalance has methodological roots. Studies of knowledge generation can meanwhile build on extensive quantitative data bases covering patenting and academic publishing, while valuation related studies rely mostly on qualitative case studies. An integrated analysis of socio-technical dynamics over long time spans and across distant geographies, which would be necessary for tracking sustainability transitions, is therefore hampered by data availability and epistemological preferences.

The present talk introduces a new method of discourse based social network analysis, which enables the reconstruction of value generation processes across time and space and therefore provides a bridge between different analytical styles. Recent methodological advancements will be presented, as well as an illustrative case study on global niche market dynamics for modular water technologies, which could support sustainability transitions in the urban water sector in the coming decades.


Bernhard Truffer heads the Environmental Social Science research department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) in Switzerland and is a full professor at the Copernicus institute of sustainable development at Utrecht University.

His empirical work focused primarily on early industry dynamics and sectoral transformation processes in fields like electricity, transport or urban water management in Europe, Australia, the US, China, South Africa and Kenya. His major areas of expertise are the geography of transition, institutional dynamics and strategic planning for sustainable infrastructures.