Influence in Technological Innovation Spaces: A Network Science Approach to Understand Innovation for Sustainability in the Global South

Publication by Daniel Schmitt & Chisenga Muyoya , , , , , , , ,
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Abstract in English:

The number of scholars working on transition concepts in the Global South is rapidly increasing. In this context, a substantial amount of research output particularly focusses on niches and how they affect transition towards sustainability in a wider framework of the multi-level-perspective. At the same time, there is a growing interest in digital technology and its effect on sustainability challenges. In this article, we combine the two fields, and by utilizing social media data, we create an innovative network science approach to analyze the production environment of digital innovations in Africa. We focus on three innovation hubs that we conceptualize as niches and innovation intermediaries that not only create communities to develop, test and implement new technology but also function as networks to discuss and form new ideas around innovations. Our key findings show how local communities are embedded in larger innovation structures. The connections between local stakeholders and global actors are predominantly created through bridge actors, who hold key positions in their communities. With tools from network science, we demonstrate that these linking elements can regulate and steer discussions and therefore, strongly influence digital niche environments. Utilizing geographical location data, we can also see that the online space of technological innovations in Africa is heavily cantered in urban areas.

Open Access? Yes

Journal Sustainability
Publication Year 2020
Volume 12(5)


English | Discipline Social Science