Abstract for: When does it really make a difference? Experimenting with the actor-heterogeneity in modeling socio-technical transitions
This study constitutes a methodological inquiry in a larger research context on transition dynamics, and it focuses on the issue of actor heterogeneity in modeling such processes. On the one hand heterogeneity at the actor level (i.e. heterogeneity among actor groups, heterogeneity among actors in a particular group, etc.) seems to be a very important source for complexity in the observed dynamics, on the other hand introduction of that heterogeneity into the models has a cost of losing some potential of the models to lead to insight development, since they become hard to comprehend in the detail level needed to incorporate mentioned heterogeneity. Hence, as a sub-topic in our wider research objectives regarding transitions, we conducted an experiment on the potential consequences (i.e. gains and losses) of ignoring or recognizing the actor heterogeneity. Three models of the same historical transition case with different types of actor heterogeneity are used in the experimentation procedure. The conclusions include direct outcomes of the experiments, as well as experience of the authors during the process of constructing these three different models that bring about differing challenges.