Conceptualising the systemic activities of intermediaries in sustainability transitions

Wisdom Kanda*, Mika Kuisma, Paula Kivimaa, Olof Hjelm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


This article contributes to the literature on sustainability transitions, innovation systems, and eco-innovation by addressing conceptual challenges regarding the systemic activities of intermediaries. Specifically, the article addresses a research gap pertaining to the ways in which the systemic activities of (eco-)innovation intermediaries can be conceptualised and empirically demonstrated. Empirically, the paper examines selected intermediaries in the context of support systems for eco-innovators in three regions across Finland, Germany, and Sweden. Drawing from our empirical findings and the literature on intermediaries, we conceptualise three system levels within which intermediation occurs: (i) in-between entities in a network, (ii) in-between networks of entities, and (iii) in-between actors, networks, and institutions. Our discussion suggests a heterogeneity of roles that individual intermediaries take at multiple system levels, complementing an emerging, more nuanced perspective of intermediaries in sustainability transitions. Thus, we suggest the term systemic intermediation for describing the system-level activities of intermediaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-465
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Eco-innovation
  • Eco-innovation intermediaries
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Systemic intermediation


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