Every method has its limitations. The following were identified during the course of this project, together with attempts of the study design to counter these:

  1. Breadth above depth:  Because a key principle of the complexity thinking underpinning the study is that of the importance of interlinkages in complex systems, the scope of the study is very broad.  This has necessarily meant its depth is, in parts, limited. Each of the areas represented in the ‘Decarbonising the SA petrochemicals value chain’ description has been the subject of many prior studies, and this one does not claim to uncover anything new at this level, nor provide a comprehensive consolidation of the findings of these studies. Rather, the insights this study does claim are those relating to the connections between the knowledges, perspectives and technical areas covered.
  2. One aim of the study was to equate knowledge areas, and the PESTEL device was used to this end. However, both the author team composition as well as the literature are biased towards the techno-economic. This bias was countered in the study structure, particularly the use of a non-linear communication format, to emphasise equality of knowledge dimensions.
  3. The study is based on information contained in the literature, as well as verbal communication with stakeholders. Given the complexity of every element of the value chain, and the fact that the authors are not experts in all of these, there are potential areas where interpretations may have been incorrect. The reader is recommended to cross-check information prior to making any specific decisions based on the information presented here.