Niches and networks: Explaining network evolution through niche formation processes

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77 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses the evolutionary perspective of Strategic Niche Management to investigate and explain the network dynamics of a collaborative innovation network. Building upon the theories of socio-technical transitions, we link macro-level network dynamics to the micro-level niche processes of vision building and experimentation. The paper describes a method to construct longitudinal two-mode affiliation networks and this method is illustrated with an analysis of the network properties of an agricultural niche in the Netherlands over a period of 15 years. Results show how a successful niche grows more connected, even when it grows in size. We found three distinct phases during which the network composition is more or less stable. Powerful actors are able to shape the composition of the network, either through providing the financial resources or through creating “legislative space” for the network to grow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-623
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • sustainable development
  • multilevel perspective
  • environmental cooperatives
  • technological transitions
  • sociotechnical transition
  • social-structure
  • green niches
  • management
  • innovation
  • systems


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