The energy transition is a complex challenge involving technological, political, behavioural, and social transformations. In this transition, social conflict frequently occurs regarding disagreements over how, when and where energy should be produced, transformed or transported. Recent literature argues for the potential value of social conflict when conflict is used to draw lessons and improve policy and projects to fit with the concerns of stakeholders. However, research in which the actual positive repercussions of multiple social conflicts are evaluated on a systemic level is lacking. In this paper we aim to empirically investigate if and how social conflict leads to institutional change. Our first research question is how institutional change as a result of social conflict can be assessed. To answer this question, we develop a framework combining the Ecologies of Participation framework with institutional change literature to evaluate the value of social conflict on institutional change regarding the objects (the ‘what’), subjects (the ‘who’), and models (the ‘how’) of participation. We apply this framework to the case of onshore wind energy in the Netherlands. Through a document analysis and semi-structured interviews, we answer the second research question: (how) did institutional change result from conflict occur for the Dutch transition to onshore wind energy between 2013 and 2022? We present our findings on which institutional changes occurred and discuss the dynamics allowing for or hindering institutional change. Our research contributes to a growing necessity to combine a systemic analysis of complex socio-technical processes with concrete measurements of change.