Actor analysis

Next to technical and societal linkages that are required for a technology to work in practice, it can be interesting to understand which actors play an important role for a technology. Actors are people, industries, institutions or organizations who can affect or are affected by the technology. These actors are also often called stakeholders. An actor analysis provides an overview of various stakeholders that are involved in the development of a certain technology. Actors can be directly or indirectly affected by a technology. For car-based transportation, directly involved actors are the car driver, car manufacturer or oil companies. However, there are also actors that are affected by the car system such as pedestrians who directly experience the car traffic but are not driving themselves [1]. The public transportation sector is affected indirectly as it needs to compete with car-based transport. Actors can also be affected indirectly by side-effects of car traffic such as accidents or air pollution. Such side-effects could turn into negative perceptions and therefore have an impact on the behavior and decisions of actors. Public authorities for example could directly affect the technological development by introducing rules and regulations to increase car safety or to reduce environmental issues. Understanding these linkages between different actors, their roles and positions can help to anticipate and react on moves of actors and therefore positively support technological development.


You can create an actor map to get an overview of the various stakeholders connected to the technology and who potentially influence technological development. Additionally, the actor analysis can help finding interesting collaborators, to select interview partners, or to identify actors with competing interests.

First, the types of actors, who are involved in research & development, innovation processes, applications, use, regulations and support should be identified. Also actors that can affect or are affected by the innovation and actors who potentially play a role in the future should be considered. After listing the types of actors, concrete actors such as particular companies or specific organizations should be mapped. The relation between the different actors gives an idea about their role with respect to each other and with regard to the technology, for example whether certain actors cooperate or compete with each other. Their interests, perceptions and resources can give a clue about whether they might support or hinder the introduction of the technology.


A linear actor map is created by te Kulve in which actors in the field of drug delivery are displayed [2]. Here, not only a primary manufacturer producing the drug but also secondary manufacturers who are responsible for the packaging and the delivery systems should be taken into account. Dynamics in the world of pharma are important but also broader developments in the health care sector, such as reduction of costs for treatments and debates on reimbursements, should be considered. Additionally to firms, knowledge institutes, clinicians, patients and governmental actors are involved. This actor map was created in advance of a workshop to better understand linkages between different stakeholders.

Actors, directly or indirectly, related to the car system are described by Geels [1]. Next to obvious actors such as technology developers and car manufacturer indirectly related stakeholders such as local residents or city planners are involved. The linkages in the actor map show the influence of actors on each other and also that new technologies could have an impact on these linkages. The increase of car safety for example can have an impact on different actors. The safety of a car could thus be increased by building in better brakes, less breakable glass or airbags which has an influence on the repair shops and manufacturers. On the other hand, the road infrastructure and maintenance could be improved which would affect again other actors. Also, traffic rules, safety regulations, and driver education could be adapted to improve car safety. Here, also the question of responsibilities in case of accidents plays an important role [3].


1. Geels, F.W., The dynamics of transitions in socio-technical systems: A multi-level analysis of the transition pathway from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles (1860–1930). Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 2005. 17(4): p. 445-476.

2. Kulve, H.T., Anticipating Market Introduction of Nanotechnology-Enabled Drug Delivery Systems, in Application of Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, A.D. Sezer, Editor. 2014.

3. Wetmore, J.M., Redefining Risks and Redistributing Responsibilities: Building Networks to Increase Automobile Safety. Science, Technology & Human Values, 2004. 29(3): p. 377-405.

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