Transition Model Canvas

The Transition Model Canvas (TMC) is an easy to use tool to evaluate and accelerate socio-technological transitions. The term socio-technical transition describes how both society and technology together change the way things are done in society. For example, the replacement of cars that are driven by fossil fuels with zero-emission vehicles. Such changes are part of wider socio-technical transitions taking place in the energy, transport, food, and health systems all over the world.

The TMC systematically maps the most important elements of a socio-technical transition, allowing practitioners to identify the strengths and vulnerabilities of systems. They can then use these to identify, design, or adapt change strategies. The TMC builds on the multi-level perspective (MLP), which is the dominant theory in transition studies.

According to the MLP, societal functions (mobility, food production, or energy supply) are produced by stable incumbent socio-technical systems that consist of many interacting elements (actors, institutions, and infrastructures). A transition happens when an incumbent socio-technological system is disrupted and eventually replaced by one or multiple alternative newly developed socio-technical systems. The latter often emerge from so-called niches. The dynamics between the incumbent system and the niche systems are influenced by the surrounding landscape.

Landscape and niche systems interact with an incumbent system over time, a flowchart
A visualization of the MLP and the dynamics between the incumbent system and emerging niche systems under the influence of the landscape conditions (visuals provided by Mario Patrick Schwery).

Understanding socio-technical transitions, let alone managing them, is complicated. We have introduced the TMC to make the academic knowledge on socio-technical transitions available to practitioners. The TMC combines the MLP from transition studies with the methodology of the business model canvas (BMC) from entrepreneurship.

The TMC allows you to map the incumbent socio-technical system, niche systems, and surrounding socio-technical landscape on a canvas. The TMC allows the practitioner to identify systemic strengths and vulnerabilities, and use them to identify or design strategies of change. It thus makes the complex language of transition studies accessible to practitioners, who deal with transition problems on a daily basis. The canvas is filled in iteratively but it is recommended to start at the top and work towards the bottom.

Layout of the transition model canvas

Publications and other resources

Here we provide access to a number of resources that allow you to work with and implement the TMC in your work.


For questions, please contact project leaders Frank van Rijnsoever or Jip Leendertse.