Qualitative system analysis as a means for sustainable governance of emerging technologies: the case of nanotechnology

Arnim Wiek, Daniel J. Lang, Michael Siegrist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Sustainable governance of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology is a demanding societal challenge due to the "technological throughput" of today's and tomorrow's social life. A prerequisite for sustainable governance is an integrated understanding of the factors, interdependencies and developmental potentials of the technological system under investigation. This paper presents a transdisciplinary qualitative system analysis on nanotechnology in Switzerland, integrating perspectives from science, business, government, and society. It provides basic knowledge about the systemic characteristics of nanotechnology development, considering innovation characteristics (visibility), consumers' concerns (contact) and the analogy to the GMO regulation (moratorium) as critical issues. The study affirms the method of qualitative system analysis, when applied in a transdisciplinary setting, as a useful, straightforward instrument for the early stage of sustainable governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-999
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Emerging technologies
  • Nanotechnology
  • Qualitative system analysis
  • Regulation
  • Sustainable governance
  • Transdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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