This paper presents a value network dynamics (VND) approach to transition studies and an application of this approach to the case of the Swedish heat pump transition. The aim with this paper is to advance our understanding on the changing roles of industry incumbents in socio-technical transitions.
The VND approach aggregates actors into value networks surrounding focal business models, which form meso-entities between firm-level actors and entire industries, and maps firm-level dynamics and business model transitions during socio-technical system transitions.
Mapping the heat pump value network dynamics in Sweden from the 1970s and onwards show that cooperation between actors and across value networks were high in the early formative periods and during periods of external pressure, and that the overall structure stability of the value networks increased over time.
The results also show that the role of the involved heat pump incumbents have changed during the transition period. Some incumbents played important roles in early periods but lost all influence on the transition in latter periods. Other incumbents went from actively engaged in heat pump transition activities to actively counteracting the same type of activities.
Incumbents have also played active roles in transitioning and refining heat pump business models and value networks together with other actors, such as new entrants, governmental agencies and incumbents in other areas. Value network reconfigurations have not only constituted an adaption to external changes in the short term, but also a way for involved actors to influence the transition trajectories in the long term.