Sustainability and Industrial dynamics

The project is focusing on business model innovation and commercialisation of research and new technology. A model describing various successful commercialization processes was developed at an early stage. In the beginning of the project we also mapped out what kind of collaborations 15 different departments in the field of Energy research at KTH had with industry and society. The results suggested that the cooperation between academia, industry and society differs a lot in different phases of an industrial life cycle.

In recent years Petter Johansson has focused on understanding the roles and ’coopetition’ dynamics between different actors in the development of one particular sector, namely the Swedish heat pump sector. This study includes both industrial and technological evolution in the Swedish heat pump sector from the 1970s and onwards, and how the role of firm-level actors, the actors’ business models and the actors influence on the sector development have changed in co-evolutionary processes with technology, institutions and other actors towards increased sustainability.

The heat pump industry is of great interest. There is more heat generated from heat pumps in Sweden per capita than anywhere else in the world and both the product development and the manufacturing of European heat pumps is too a large extent concentrated to Sweden. Yet no studies have explored the long-term roles of industry and academia in this transition. We address this research gap concerning actor dynamics in sustainability transition and the Swedish heat pump area specifically.

Our goals are to describe how both firms-in-industries and universities influence and change with transitions and how their roles change in different phases of an industry life cycle, e.g. how industry-research collaborations change with industrial and technological maturity.

We have focused on the Swedish heat pump area. Our goal is to add an actor (firms/universities) agency dimension to previous studies and explanation on why Sweden has become a forerunner in the heat pump area.  Our research is important not only to understand the introduction of new energy technology innovations into the energy system, but also to create knowledge for academia concerning how research can be utilized through various paths and means. Our research is closely linked to research in the field of industrial dynamics, i.e. Dahmén, Schumpeter, Utterback, Christensen as well as Teece, Rummelt, and Allee.

We are conducting semi-structured in depth interviews with practitioners, managers and researchers that are or have been active within the studied areas together with extensive archival studies ranging from the 1970’s and onwards.

Technological transitions; Industrial dynamics; Commercialization of research; Co-evolution of organizations; Energy systems; Value networks; Business model innovation

Research Group

Project leader
Eric Giertz (Professor Emeritus), Division of Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics

Other project members

PhD Student Petter Johansson, Division of Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics

Links and references

Eric Giertz profile:

Petter Johansson profile: