Prof Frank Boons

Professor of Innovation and Sustainability


In his current research, Frank Boons seeks to provide a deeper understanding of processes of innovation of where sustainability is contested. He conceptualizes innovation in practices of consumption and production as an embedded phenomenon, but rather than studying systems of innovation, he is interested in the processual quality of sustainable innovation. He studies longitudinal cases in different settings, including the sustainable development of regional industrial clusters, the regeneration of urban areas, the evolution of sectors of industry, and the development of sustainable business models. This work requires a conceptualization of innovation as a sequences of events, and one of the aims of his research is the development of tools to analyze such sequences. This methodological part of the research draws on social network analysis, sequence analysis and predictive analytics. The premisse is that while quantitative tools enable a more systematic approach to analysis, they need to be complemented by interpretive steps to ensure that meaningful explanations are constructed. Frank has worked as an economic sociologist in the field of environmental sciences for over 20 years, and is currently associate editor of the Journal of Industrial Ecology (for the topic Business and Environment), as well as subject editor for the Journal of Cleaner Production (for the topic Governance of material and energy flows).