ECN publication
Local negotiation and alignment of expectations and transfer of lessons in niche development trajectories
Raven, R.P.J.M.; Heiskanen, E.; Lovio, R.; Hodson, M.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 3-9-2007
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-M--07-096 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
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Presented at: Workshop Innovation and Path Dependency, Zurich, Switzerland, 16-17 april 2007.

This paper examines the tension between the need to maintain diversity and the need to support path creation in the promotion of emerging sustainable technologies. The analysis is framed within the niche development literature and in particular the dynamics of socio-cognitive technology evolution as elaborated by Geels and Raven (2006). This literature offers a framework for analyzing the relation between individual projects in local contexts and the transfer of local experiences into generally applicable rules on the ‘global niche level’. We address this question by examining two case studies drawn from a meta-analysis of 22 new energy projects throughout Europe. These two case studies, both pertaining to biogas projects for local municipalities, illustrate the diversity of applications introduced into a generic technology through processes of local variation and selection. We examine the diversity of expectations, and the negotiation and alignment of these expectations, underlying the diversity of local solutions. Moreover, we identify the types of generally applicable rules that the projects produced for the ‘global niche level’, and suggest that the transfer of lessons from individual local experiments can follow different pathways, but always requires due attention to the social and cultural limits to the transferability of solutions.

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