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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.
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Chapter 8: Getting through the ‘Twilight Zone’: Managing Transitions through Process-based, Horizontal and Interactive Governance

Geert R. Teisman and Jurian Edelenbos


Geert R. Teisman and Jurian Edelenbos INTRODUCTION Quality is in the Eye of the Beholder and Requires Combining Above All Sustainable development is a frequently discussed concept (Palmer et al., 1997). It fits in with the more general quest for quality. This quest appears to become an important point of attention in a network society. There seems to be a broad consensus that quality is needed. In that sense the need for sustainability is universally defined and embraced. The definition has to do with survival and with the ability to develop a society without creating a scarcity of its basic elements and building materials. Although the quest for sustainability may command broad support, effective results will not be realized easily. The lack of progress in achieving effective results has partly to do with the differences of opinion on the question of what sustainability is and how it is to be achieved. Definitions of sustainable development vary considerably. Various directions to solve the problem are defined. Every direction in itself can be advanced by different implementation schemes. Transitions towards sustainability therefore will have to be achieved within a multiplicity of realities. This insight will serve as a basis assumption for our research on the question of how sustainability can be achieved. It draws our attention to perceived realities. How sustainability is defined, and how this ‘better’ situation is to be achieved, is in the eye of the beholder. The meaning of ‘sustainable...

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