Meta-frameworks have undoubted advantages for public policy – they can help to articulate new imaginaries and can serve as guides towards specific actions (and as vehicles for funding). But there can also be downsides, especially when practices inspired by these meta-narratives are crudely imposed across different physical spaces with little or no consultation or adjustment to local circumstances. This raises broader analytical question of how do policy narratives – and an associated set of policy practices to support this – influence transitions processes when applied across very different geographies? The subsequent challenge is to develop a methodology to empirically study this question when faced with complex patterns of relationships that make spaces unique but also create unevenness in processes of transitions.
Despite these complexities, the growing demand for new meta-narratives to support transitions processes puts the onus on researchers to study how policy narratives and policy practices are implemented and applied across spaces and how these are received and interpreted by different actors across different spaces. In other words, how can policy narratives and policy practices remain relevant, beneficial and useful from the perspective of transformations when they travel across different contextual spaces? These questions force us to go beyond the remit of STI policy and to engage with broader discussions of new forms of public policy for transformative change. We begin briefly tracing debates around relational forms of governance before addressing the question of spatial differences.