Exploring the role of regime actors in shaping the directionality of sustainability transitions in South Africa

Julius Irene, Mary Kelly, Bridget Irene, Eunice Oluwakemi Chukwuma-Nwuba, Promise Opute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored the influence of regime actors to shape the directionality of sustainability transitions. Sustainability transitions are not only limited to system design and development but an interaction of incumbent actors and path-dependent mechanisms. Policymakers may develop a strategy to steer the application of sociotechnical innovation but are faced with directionality challenges if they are explicitly focused on linear transitions. We conducted face-to-face interviews with 26 policy and technical experts to explore this concept. We base the analysis of this study on the actor's perspective, vested values, and interest to provide a basis to inform the future of sustainability transitions in South Africa. The results of the study presented divergent transition patterns across the dominant actors, creating choices for alternative pathways. The study also found considerable ambivalence about shale gas development bordering on the suitability of shale energy to facilitate the South African energy transition. This study improved our understanding of how varied interests and values of actors can present significant challenges to sustainability transitions and shapes the prospect of sociotechnical innovations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103068
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Directionality
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Regime actors
  • Sociotechnical innovation
  • shale gas development


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the role of regime actors in shaping the directionality of sustainability transitions in South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this