Technology-focused literature on socio-technical transitions shares some of the complex systems sensibilities of social-ecological systems research. We contend that the sharing of lessons between these areas of study must attend particularly to the common governance challenges that confront both approaches. Here, we focus on critical experience arising from reactions to a transition management approach to governing sustainable socio-technical transformations. Questions over who governs, whose system framings count, and whose sustainability gets prioritized are all pertinent to social-ecological systems research. We conclude that future research in both areas should deal more centrally and explicitly with these inherently political dimensions of sustainability.