Poster

Opening up the regime, and unlocking path dependencies for transformative change. Comparative cases between China and South Africa’s electricity sector

Abstract

Socio-technical regimes are characterised as path dependent, because there are: (1) incumbent actors which have been vested in maintaining the status quo, (2) a network of actors that reprepsent organisational capital, (3) regulations and standards that enable continuity of the regime, (4) cognitive routines and practices that can blind actors outside of their own focus, and lastly (5) material elements such as infrastructure enabling lock in due to sunk investments (Verbong and Geels, 2007) In this frame, regimes are known sources of inertia, resistance and lock-in, thereby limiting efforts to achieve socio-technical change (Geels, 2014). Therefore, understanding how to overcome regime resistance could contribute to accelerating sustainability transitions by, for example, identifying ways to destabilise existing regime, while promoting innovative niches. Against this background, this project intends to explore the question, how to conceptualise the regime stability and change,and  what role should the transformative innovation policy play to stimulate the regime destabilisation?

More recently, a growing number of scholars in sustainability transitions underscore the dynamic nature of regime behaviour: as actively resisting change (Geels, 2014), as well as shaping regime rules through an institutional process (Genus, 2012, Fuenfschilling and Truffer, 2014, Smink et al., 2015), a reorientation towards radical innovation (Berggren et al., 2015, Penna and Geels, 2015) and an engagement in multiple-regime interactions (Raven and Verbong, 2007, Sutherland et al., 2015). There is also research that centres on the deliberate phasing out of mature, unsustainable regimes (Rogge and Johnstone, 2017, Stegmaier et al., 2014), which could contribute to accelerating the diffusion of niche innovations. Lastly, there are criticisms that are directed towards the applicability of the regime concept in more complex settings, such as those found in the Global South, which is characterised by the potential for the hybrid character of incumbent systems, flexible institutional embedding and higher forms of uncertainty to arise (Wieczorek, 2018).

Overall, there is a need for further research that can articulate and unravel the nuances of regime stability and niche development. Such nuances, in turn, imply new ways that could open up the analysis on the regime, and potentially contribute to conceptualising transformative changes and the role of innovation policy can play during the process.

Project Resources

Multiple Regime Interactions, Conversion, and South Africa’s Liquefied Natural Gas

Follow The Debate on Twitter

@Tipconsortium  #TipConf2019

Member:
Country: ,

For Global Transformative Change, Sign-Up Now.

Your role

* indicates required
feedback_mix.png