STS - conferences, IST2012

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Transitions or transformations? An analysis of two scientific networks.
Emile Chappin, Andreas Ligtvoet

Last modified: 2012-03-19



The terms 'transition' and 'transition management' have a special connotation in the Dutch policy context: they encompass the change towards a more sustainable society and embody questions of how this goal should be achieved. Researchers under the banner of 'transition' seem to have been concentrated in the Netherlands -- other researchers with similar interests may rally under different banners. To find out to what extent 'transition' is a Dutch preoccupation, we perform a literature search using Scopus to identify key references, key authors, and the coherence between references and authors. We contrast this with an alternative nomer '(societal) transformation'. We also included referenced sources in our analysis if references were available. Both authors and referenced documents partly overlap.

By analysing co-author and citation networks, we find large differences in these groups of papers. The transition literature is characterised by a large network of directly and indirectly cooperating authors with clear clusters that are institution-related; transformation literature only contains small and isolated author networks. The transition literature is tightly knit: with high degrees of internal references and only one clearly distinguishable core. Tranformation literature has two cores with far lower degrees.

The global number of citations as listed by Google Scholar (indicating scientific relevance) is far larger for 'transformation '. From the top 20 articles for both sets, 9 manuscripts in the 'transformation' set have a very high number of citations (1k-23k), whereas only one article in the 'transition' set reaches that amount.

The core of the literature on 'transition' is from Dutch scholars, although the network contains scholars from all over the world. The connection to established and highly cited research is low as compared with `transformation'. This suggests that there are opportunities for strenghtening the field. This analysis can be used to identify opportunities that may strengthen such connections.