Theory, Evidence and Policy
Edited by Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels and Ken Green
Chapter 9: Bounded Socio-Technical Experiments (BSTEs): Higher Order Learning for Transitions Towards Sustainable Mobility
1 Halina Szejnwald Brown, Philip J. Vergragt, Ken Green, Luca Berchicci INTRODUCTION A bounded socio-technical experiment (BSTE) attempts to introduce a new technology, service, or a social arrangement on a small scale. Many such experiments are ongoing worldwide. They are carried out by coalitions of diverse actors and are driven by long-term and large-scale visions of advancing society’s sustainability agenda. This chapter analyses two such experiments from the domain of personal mobility, focusing on the processes of higher order learning that occur through BSTEs. Based on the conceptual frameworks from theories of organizational learning, policyoriented learning and diﬀusion of innovation, we identify two types of learning: the ﬁrst type occurs among the participants in the experiment and their immediate professional networks; the second type occurs in society at large. Both types play a key role in the potential or envisaged societal transition towards sustainable mobility systems. Two Dutch case studies, in which the Design for Sustainability Group at the Technical University of Delft has participated, provide empirical data for the analysis. One case consists of the development of a three-wheeled, bike-plus vehicle (Mitka); the second case seeks to solve mobility problems on the island of Texel. We ﬁnd that higher-order learning of the ﬁrst type occurs among the BSTE participants and beyond. Learning can be facilitated by the deployment of structured visioning exercises, by the diﬀusion of ideas among related BSTEs, by innovative couplings of problems and solutions, and by creating links among related experiments. Government agencies, universities...
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