Catalysts for Connection: An Individual Actor-level Perspective on Intermediary Roles in Sustainability Transitions
Intermediaries are essential in sustainability transitions. These “in-between” actors broker relationships, transfer information, coordinate processes, and configure outcomes within sociotechnical systems. While existing literature primarily frames intermediaries as organizational actors, this thesis responds to calls for more individual-actor perspectives within transitions research, and thus reframes intermediaries as individuals to illustrate the importance of the people who play these connecting roles. This qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews identifies individual intermediaries within the empirical context of New York State’s energy transition. Four intermediary roles—Bridgers, Conduits, Aligners, and Shapers—are developed to conceptualize specific relational actions and functions. Intermediaries are enabled by multiple individual attributes and contextual factors, emphasizing the importance of both subjectivity and structure to this functional role. By making explicit this otherwise unarticulated individual intermediary role, these findings provide the basis to recognize and support individual intermediary actors, whose micro-level actions provide key relational infrastructure to catalyze and sustain transformative change.
Stedman, Richard Clark
Reed, Patrick Michael; Forester, John F.
M.S., Natural Resources
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis