Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation Research

No 2019/6: When the novelty fades – Socio-technical, spatial and temporal dimensions of regional energy transitions

Camilla Chlebna () and Jannika Mattes ()
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Camilla Chlebna: University of Oldenburg, Postal: Germany
Jannika Mattes: University of Oldenburg, Postal: Germany

Abstract: Regional energy transitions are complex processes that are determined by manifold dynamics. We assign these to three core dimensions: the socio-technical, the spatial, and the temporal dimension, and integrate them into a comprehensive framework. We conceptualise the overall transition as unfolding in phases. The first three phases, ‘initiation’, ‘expansion’ and ‘consolidation’ are well established in the literature, and we supplement a particular focus on the social dynamics that constitute them. We also add a fourth phase, a period of ‘fragile new order’. In this phase, socio-technical constellations seem to be well established and the novelty fades. This induces the danger of complacency amongst agents which reduces transition activities, and results in a tipping point. The transition may or may not proceed from this depending on the institutional arrangements and on how the regional agents cope with them. Drawing upon an in-depth case study of the Oldenburg region, we illustrate the dynamics of each phase and show how agents cope with the fragile new order. The observed adaptation processes include a resurge of informal constellations as well as diversification and even exit strategies.

Keywords: Regions; energy; socio-technical transitions; phase model; strategic agency; tipping point

JEL-codes: O33; P18; R11

29 pages, April 8, 2019

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