Advertisement

Basic Concepts

Chapter
  • 368 Downloads
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Business book series (BRIEFSBUSINESS)

Abstract

In this chapter the essential basic concepts that are needed to build a socio-technical map are presented. Any social function—such as feeding, housing, mobility, supply of energy, healthcare, etc.—is fulfilled by one or more socio-technical (ST) systems. Each ST system consists of a network of innovators and a structure of material and immaterial constituents. Usually one ST system holds a dominant position: only ST “niches” are partially or totally protected from its selection pressure. The dynamics of ST systems may be grouped into two large families: the adaptation of a dominant ST system and the establishment of a new dominant position. Niches play a relevant role in both kinds of dynamics. The political dimension of the dynamics of ST systems becomes relevant when a dominant position is taken over: niche innovators must scale up a cumulative process between empowerment, legitimation and networking in order to gain a stable role into the public debate and possibly to influence the direction of change of agendas and actual policies. A sustainability transition (SusTran) is needed when a social functions is currently dominated by (or locked into) a ST system that is environmentally unsustainable. The mere adaptation of an existing dominant ST system is not sufficient to generate a SusTran. This is why the take-over of the dominant position of an unsustainable ST system is a necessary condition for a SusTran to take place.

Keywords

Socio-technical system Socio-technical niche Innovators Transition pathways Sustainability transition 

References

  1. Amendola M, Gaffard JL (2006) The market way to riches: behind the Myth. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham and NorthamptonGoogle Scholar
  2. Avelino F, Rotmans J (2009) Power in transition. An interdisciplinary framework to study power in relation to structural change. Eur J Soc Theory 12:543–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown H, Vergragt PJ (2012) Grassroots innovations and socio-technical system change–Energy retrofitting of the residential housing stock. In: Marletto G (ed) Creating a sustainable economy. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bulkeley H, Castan Broto V, Hodson M, Marvin S (2011) Cities and low carbon transitions. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  5. Dosi G (1982) Technological paradigms and technological trajectories—a suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change. Res Policy 11:147–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Geels FW (2002) Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case study. Res Policy 31:1257–1274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Geels FW (2005) Technological transitions and system innovations: a co-evolutionary and socio-technical analysis. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Geels FW (2011) The role of cities in technological transitions: analytical clarifications and historical examples. In: Bulkeley H, Castan Broto V, Hodson M, Marvin S (eds) Cities and low carbon transitions. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  9. Geels WF, Schot J (2007) Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Res Policy 36:399–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haxeltine A, Whitmarsh L, Bergman N, Rotmans J, Schilperoord M, Köhler J (2008) A conceptual framework for transition modelling. Int J Innov and Sustain Develop 3:93–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hekkert M, Suurs RAA, Negro S, Kuhlmann S, Smits R (2007) Functions of innovation systems: a new approach for analysing technological change. Technol Forecast Soc Change 74:413–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kern F (2011) Ideas, institutions, and interests: explaining policy divergence in fostering ‘system innovations’ towards sustainability. Environ Plann C Govern Policy 29:1116–1134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Markard J, Raven R, Truffer B (2012) Sustainability transitions: an emerging field of research and its prospects. Res Policy 41:955–967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. North D (2005) Understanding the process of economic change. Princeton University Press, Princeton and OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Safarzynska K (2012) Agency and economic change. In: Marletto G (ed) Creating a sustainable economy. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  16. Schot J, Geels FW (2007) Niches in evolutionary theories of technical change. A critical survey of the literature. J Evol Econ 17:605–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sengers F, Raven R (2015) Toward a spatial perspective on niche development: the case of bus rapid transit. Environ Innov Soc Transitions 17:166–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Simon HA (1987) Models of man. Garland, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Smith A, Raven R (2012) What is protective space? reconsidering niches in transition to sustainability. Res Policy 41:1025–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Smith A, Stirling A, Berkhout B (2005) The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions. Res Policy 34:1491–1510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Suurs R, Hekkert M, Kieboom S, Smits R (2010) Understanding the formative stage of technological innovation system development: the case of natural gas as an automotive fuel. Energy Policy 38:419–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Unruh GC (2000) Understanding carbon lock-in. Energy Policy 28:817–830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Unruh GC (2002) Escaping carbon lock-in. Energy Policy 30:317–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van den Bergh JCJM, Truffer B, Kallis G (2011) Environmental innovation and societal transitions: introduction and overview. Environ Innovation Soc Transitions 1:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Walker W (2000) Entrapment in large technology systems: institutional commitment and power relations. Res Policy 29:833–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zweynert J (2009) Interests versus culture in the theory of institutional change? J Inst Econ 5:339–360Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DiSEAUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.DICEAUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  3. 3.DIEMUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly

Personalised recommendations