Table of Contents

System Innovation and the Transition to Sustainability

System Innovation and the Transition to Sustainability

Theory, Evidence and Policy

Edited by Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels and Ken Green

This book considers two main questions: how do system innovations or transitions come about and how can they be influenced by different actors, in particular by governments. The authors identify the theories which can be used to conceptualise the dynamics of system innovations and discuss the weaknesses in these theories. They also look at the lessons which can be learned from historical examples of transitions, and highlight the instruments and policy tools which can be used to stimulate future system innovations towards sustainability. The expert contributors address these questions using insights from a variety of different disciplines including innovation studies, evolutionary economics, the sociology of technology, environmental analysis and governance studies. The book concludes with an extensive summary of the results and practical suggestions for future research.

Preface

Edited by Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels and Ken Green

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, innovation and technology, innovation policy

Extract

Since the publication of the Brundtland report in 1987, the goal of sustainability has increasingly gained the attention of a variety of societal actors, including public authorities, NGOs, consumer groups and industrial firms as well as researchers in a wide range of disciplines. At the general level, there is widespread consensus that various characteristics of modern societies are not sustainable and should change. When things get more prescriptive, however, many feel that the goals of sustainability seem to clash with other vital societal interests. In recent decades, impressive results have been achieved in the environmental aspect of sustainability, for example by curbing the emissions of a variety of pollutants. Nonetheless, many feel that achieving the broader goals of sustainability is still remote since many problems appear extremely difficult to tackle, such as obtaining large reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, the scope of the term of sustainability has become broadened to include a variety of goals, including a healthy environment, a healthy society and a healthy economy. To achieve this multitude of targets we seem to need fundamental changes, and these changes are denoted by terms like system innovation, transition and industrial transformation. Across the world, researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds have begun to try to understand the processes underlying these changes and policy makers have begun to use these insights. In the Netherlands, for example, various ministries have set up so-called ‘transition teams’ who wrestle with the issue of how to set in motion fundamental...