by Andrea Ferloni
The transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs) is a coevolutionary process involving at least three sectors—EV, battery, and smart grid—in replacing combustion cars. This paper contributes to research on the geography of transitions by linking increased relatedness between technologies over time with their co-location, exploring the spatial emergence of transition industries and the role of local economic systems in enabling it. Patent citations are used to construct three main paths from 1920 to 2020 that permit to geolocate key inventions and to elaborate on the role of cities in supporting knowledge exchanges and recombinations. The case study suggests that a coevolutionary perspective can contribute to understanding the geography of transitions in three ways: by showing how new technology configurations imply varying power relations between industrial fields, by elaborating on the capacity of urban regions to adapt to these, and by illustrating the role of actors and networks in this process.
Download paper: Transitions as a coevolutionary process: the urban emergence of electric vehicle inventions
Cite as: Ferloni A. (2021) Transitions as a coevolutionary process: the urban emergence of electric vehicle inventions. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(10), GEIST Working Paper series.
by Jonas Heiberg and Bernhard Truffer
Innovation studies is increasingly acknowledging the multi-scalar nature of the systemic contexts, in which innovations are being developed and deployed. This paper builds on and further develops a recently proposed framework for studying global innovation systems (GIS). It aims at explaining the emergence of a GIS by outlining the specific local resource-related conditions that lead to the creation of structural couplings, i.e. actors, networks and institutions that allow for multi-scalar resource flows. Deploying a qualitative case study, the paper investigates eight demonstration sites for an innovative wastewater treatment technology in North-Western Europe. It shows how resource-related deficits lead actors to draw on resources generated outside of their local context. The paper contributes to the literature on the Geography of Transitions by highlighting the importance of resource complementarities among different local contexts, as well as the crucial role of translocal systemic intermediaries in shaping emergent GIS.
Download paper: The emergence of a global innovation system – a case study from the water sector
Cite as: Heiberg J. and Truffer B. (2021) The emergence of a global innovation system – a case study from the water sector. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(09), GEIST Working Paper series.
by Jonas Heiberg and Bernhard Truffer
The technological innovation systems (TIS) framework is one of the dominant perspectives in transitions studies to analyze success conditions of newly emerging technologies and industries. Key conditions for innovation success reside in overcoming so-called system failures. So far, TIS studies mostly adopted a rather harmonious view on the values, goals and interests that motivate the different actors and by this were unable to address competition, conflicts and, in particular, battles over diverging directionalities within the system. To tackle this “harmony fallacy”, we propose an institutional logics based measure for “value-based proximities” among actors, which serve to identify the “degree of harmony” in the field. To operationalize these concepts, we apply socio-technical configuration analysis (STCA) based on transcripts from 26 interviews, covering the case of modular water technologies in Switzerland. Results indicate that value orientations crucially affect system failures, diverging technological preferences and collaboration patterns. Conflictual field logics may prevent the stabilization of system structures in a specific country and drive actors to engage in sub- or transnational networks. This analysis enables to inspire key conceptual tasks of innovation system analysis, like the identification of system failures, the setting of appropriate system boundaries and the formulation of better policy implications.
Download paper: Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems
Cite as: Heiberg J. and Truffer B. (2021) Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(03), GEIST Working Paper series.