by Johan Miörner, Christian Binz and Lea Fuenfschilling
Transitions literature shows important gaps when it comes to specifying how, and why, transformation processes play out differently in different sectoral contexts. This paper develops a heuristic for analysing a socio-technical system’s inherent transformative potential and for comparing transition trajectories in different socio-technical systems with each other. The framework draws on insights from transition studies and organizational institutionalism to specify three features of a socio-technical system which shape its inherent transformative potential and most likely transition trajectories: the degree of institutionalization of socio-technical configurations, their coherence, as well as spatial characteristics of the system as a whole. The contribution of the paper is threefold: 1) it develops a systematic understanding of the basic characteristics of a sector’s socio-technical system and how they influence the likelihood, nature, and speed of transition processes; 2) it provides insights to whether and how lessons derived from one sector can be used for understanding transitions in others; 3) it guides the identification of places and spatial scales at which transitions unfold and where leverage points for transformative change lie in different sectors. The framework is illustrated with empirical examples from existing literature on the water- and urban mobility sectors.
Cite as: Miörner J., Binz C. and Fuenfschilling L. (2021) Understanding transformation patterns in different socio-technical systems – A scheme of analysis. GEIST – Geography of Innovation and Sustainability Transitions, 2021(11), GEIST Working Paper series.