Participatory policy design in system innovation

Peter De Smedt*, Kristian Borch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Governments are affected by an unprecedented technological acceleration that is transforming societies. Most technologies unfold in complex and unpredictable ways. Unfolding technologies have been both a source of societal and environmental challenges as well as a possible response to address them. This complexity challenges the ability of policy makers to recognize the systemic dimension of innovation and to learn from stakeholders engagement. For these reasons, sustainable transitions have progressively become a policy discourse on how to guide innovation trajectories. In this paper, we argue that a system innovation approach has great potential for governments to improve their policy design for sustainable transitions. This participatory approach requires a more systemic understanding of technological change and a better organization of stakeholder engagement than most traditional practices (e.g. an evidence-driven, technocratic or an idealistic, consensus approach) can offer. How can a participatory policy design tool with a strong emphasis on sustainable transitions be developed? In this paper, we applied a reflexive understanding of knowledge creation in stakeholder networks to develop such a tool in accordance with a system innovation approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Design and Practice
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • policy design
  • policy innovation
  • serious gaming
  • stakeholder engagement
  • Sustainable transitions


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