We understand a socio-technical system (STS) as a cyber-physical system in which two or more autonomous parties interact via or about technical elements, including the parties’ resources and actions. As information technology begins to pervade every corner of human life, STSs are becoming ever more common, and the challenge of governing STSs is becoming increasingly important. We advocate a normative basis for governance, wherein norms represent the standards of correct behaviour that each party in an STS expects from others. A major benefit of focussing on norms is that they provide a socially realistic view of interaction among autonomous parties that abstracts low-level implementation details. Overlaid on norms is the notion of a sanction as a negative or positive reaction to potentially any violation of or compliance with an expectation. Although norms have been well studied as regards governance for STSs, sanctions have not. Our understanding and usage of norms is inadequate for the purposes of governance unless we incorporate a comprehensive representation of sanctions.
We address the aforementioned gap by proposing (i) a sanction typology that reflects the relevant features of sanctions, and (ii) a conceptual sanctioning process model providing a functional structure for sanctioning in STS. We demonstrate our contributions via a motivating scenario from the domain of renewable energy trading.