STS - conferences, IST2012

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A Multi-Scale Model of Low Carbon Innovation Systems
Malcolm Eames, Yan Wang, Carla De Laurentis

Last modified: 2012-03-20


Over the last decade research on sustainability transitions has emerged as a dynamic frontier within broad interdisciplinary field of innovation studies. As Coenen et al (2010) note two conceptual frameworks, Technological Innovations Systems (TIS) and the Multi-Level Perspective (MPL), have provided the dominant analytical heuristics shaping research into the dynamics of sustainability transitions. In broad terms, whilst TIS analysis focuses upon the emerging actors, networks and institutional structures supporting new (sustainable) socio-technical configurations, the MPL draws particular attention to the role of niches in fostering (sustainable) innovation and the dynamics of competition between emerging niches and incumbent socio-technical regimes. However, both approaches have been criticised for lacking an adequate conceptualisation of space. Indeed Coenen et al (2010: p 32) have recently argued that “transition research would do well to take a closer look at the global networks and local clusters of transition pathways in conceptual, methodological and empirical terms.” In responding to this call this paper proposes a multi-scale systems model of low carbon innovation. The model is distinctive in that it draws attention to: i) the multi-scale interactions and functional linkages between Regional and Global Technological Innovation Systems; ii) the both competitive and/or synergistic interactions between multiple emerging Technological Innovation Systems; and iii) the importance of regional context, not just in terms of the broader institutional, economic and governance dimensions (which are considered within the Regional Systems of Innovation (RSI) framework) but also the importance of the natural and built environment as a source of competitive regional advantage (and constraints) shaping low carbon innovation and transition pathways.

Key Words: transition studies, territorial innovation systems, technological innovation systems, low carbon innovation, geographies of transition, natural and built environment