Stakeholder values and platform wars: smart meters in the Netherlands

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The interconnected nature of the different components of smart grids is a prime example of complexity in technological systems. Developing such systems is highly dependent on the wishes and needs of end-users and other stakeholders. We argue that stakeholder values should be taken into consideration during the design and standardisation of complex infrastructures, and illustrate this with a case of smart meters and home energy management systems. We base our argument on the literature in the technology management fields, particularly those strands related to standardisation. We conduct a case study of the acceptance of smart meters (standards) in the Netherlands, based on stakeholder interviews. We use q-methodology to analyse the most salient values in this case. The Dutch smart meter case arguably demonstrates that a lack of consideration for stakeholder values led to the postponed roll-out of smart meters in the Netherlands. By not addressing privacy issues, economic advantages, and the need for informed consent, the roll-out of smart meters was delayed for several years. This lead to a more gradual approach and increased stakeholder involvement. This case may serve as an example for other European countries who also face public concern regarding the impact of advanced metering infrastructures.