Handbook of Sustainable Innovation
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Handbook of Sustainable Innovation

Edited by Frank Boons and Andrew McMeekin

The Handbook of Sustainable Innovation maps the multiple lineages of research and understanding that constitute academic work on how technological change relates to sustainable practices of production and consumption. Leading academics contribute by mapping the general evolution of this academic field, our understanding of sustainable innovation at the firm, user, and systems level, the governance of sustainable innovation, and the methodological approaches used. The Handbook explores the distinctiveness of sustainable innovation and concludes with suggestions for generating future research avenues that exploit the current diversity of work while seeking increased systemic insight.
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Chapter 18: Advances in modelling sustainable innovation: from technology bias tosystem theories and behavioural dynamics

Jonathan Köhler


This chapter summarizes new directions in modelling sustainable innovation: the application of the ideas of evolutionary economics to apply the new systems theories of sustainable innovation – multi-level perspective and technological innovation systems. Such models necessarily apply the concepts of complex systems science. An important improvement compared to the conventional economic models of innovation is the ability to represent behaviour – of consumers, households, firms, governments – in more sophisticated and plausible ways. Agent-based models (ABMs) provide one avenue of approach. Evolutionary methods can show how alternatives are generated, while models that represent the neo-Schumpeterian ideas and sustainability transitions narrative of regime change can suggest how the 'closing down' process may play out. Further research questions include: Can models support processes of sustainable innovation including niche experiments and growth? Can they provide policy analysis and support for the different levels of governance, from district councils to global negotiations for climate change?

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