Passing the baton: How intermediaries advance sustainability transitions in different phases

Paula Kivimaa, Sampsa Hyysalo, Wouter Boon*, Laurens Klerkx, Mari Martiskainen, Johan Schot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, increasing attention has been paid to intermediaries, actors connecting multiple other actors, in transition processes. Research has highlighted that intermediary actors (e.g. innovation funders, energy agencies, NGOs, membership organisations, or internet discussion forums) operate in many levels to advance transitions. We argue that intermediation, and the need for it, varies during the course of transition. Yet, little explicit insight exists on intermediation in different transition phases. We integrate existing conceptual models on transition dynamics and phases and a typology of transition intermediaries to examine how intermediaries advance transitions in different phases. We illustrate our conceptual insights through examples from car clubs, heat pumps and low-energy housing. We conclude that intermediation is paramount from predevelopment to stabilisation of a transition. Intermediary functions change from supporting experimentation and articulation of needs in predevelopment, to the aggregation of knowledge, pooling resources, network building and stronger institutional support and capacity building in acceleration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-125
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Change agents
  • Intermediaries
  • Intermediation
  • Multilevel perspective
  • Sustainability transition
  • Transition phases


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