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Investigating the role of intermediaries in developing architectural innovations in the GB electricity system

About This PhD Project

Project Description

In the context of such profound transformative change, intermediaries can be defined as “actors and platforms that positively influence sustainability transition processes by linking actors and activities, and their related skills and resources, or by connecting transition visions and demands of networks of actors with existing regimes in order to create momentum for socio-technical system change, to create new collaborations within and across niche technologies, ideas and markets, and to disrupt dominant unsustainable socio-technical configurations” (Kivimaa et al., 2018). Thus intermediaries can be thought of as liminal entities that creatively link sub-systems and achieve architectural innovation and systemic change. Intermediaries are rarely officially established in advance but a variety tend to emerge as architectural innovations unfold ibid. Here, research shows that the needs for intermediation often change over the course of transitions (Van Lente et al. 2011). However, there are few studies which focus on the practices of intermediaries in systemic architectural innovations in electricity systems and the political struggles and contestations associated with these.

Thus the aim and objectives of this study are to investigate the role of intermediaries in developing architectural innovations in the GB electricity system; to identify their role in the purposive management of architectural innovation in the GB electricity sector that meet the challenge of increasing flexibility in response to new demands from transport and heat; and to identify ways in which intermediary practices can be purposively shaped (e.g. by policy instruments) in pursuit of better outcomes.
A mixed methods case-study approach focused on the GB electricity system will be pursued to meet the aim and objectives of the study. Qualitative data will be collected via multiple methods such as documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews from multiple sources such as key informants. Data will be analysed using NVIVO software and follow thematic coding and discourse analytical approached.


Applicants must apply using the online form on the University Alliance website at Full details of the programme, eligibility details and a list of available research projects can be seen at

The final deadline for application is 12 April 2019.

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