Aps easst presentation 2010

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  • Note: slight simplification it the title, and which matches the paper.

    Purpose: to flag up some issues we are thinking through in the opening stages of a new research project. The project will look at ‘protective space’ for three energy niches in the UK and NL, each chosen for their relative ‘distance’ or ‘disruptiveness’ relative to incumbent electricity regimes. The cases are solar PV, offshore wind, and CCS.

    Here, we simply discuss flag up some conceptual issues for discussion and advice from the audience. A collection of thoughts. Not yet an analysis.

    It is striking how little explored is the concept of ‘protective space’ in the sustainability transitions literature, despite it being foundational to the multi-level framework.
  • Whilst the broad features of sustainability are identifiable in a set of environmental, social and economic values based in futurity, resilience, equity and justice, the specific details are ambiguous and open to contestation. This includes the way those values manifest in proposals for different technologies.

    As sustainability transitions become bigger and bigger business, so a greater variety of advocates will be arguing for support for their niches. The environmentalists have long been joined by a veritable army of entrepreneurs, investors, leading corporations, technology developers, consultants, venture capitalists, politicians, and others; all pushing various solutions for realising sustainable development.

    Technological, economic and institutional arguments are needed to make the case for protecting niches. Ultimately, however, this means mobilising others to commit to the niche and its development, by persuading them that their interests lie in its development. Securing and withdrawing protective space for niche sustainability solutions is a political endeavour. We return to this point later.

    Selection environments constituted by regime path-dependencies and lock-ins that disadvantage sustainable novelties

    Q: how does protective space operate and permit certain novelties to flourish?

  • Protective space is a shield from some or all of the dominant selection environment processes constituting regimes and reproducing them.

    What is the blue line in this diagram, where does it come from, and how does it operate?

    Leads to a number of questions for future research – next slide


  • Alternative selection environment – Markard and Truffer

    Lesson from infant industries literature (protection a big topic there) – protective measures need to be temporary and conditional upon the build up of (internationally) competitive capabilities in the industry

  • Regimes are privileged – highly institutionalised protective measures, such as the path-dependencies that make development along continued trajectories easier (though increasingly problematic for our environments) than path-breaking innovation.
  • Where does protective space come from?

    Each of these has to counter-pose the regime selection environment (shield) but also embody sustainability values that support innovation in the niche.

  • Protective spaces are unlikely to arise fully formed.

    Question of mobilising whatever protections are to hand, and realising whatever developments are possible in absence of the specific selection processes being suspended by the protection.

    Blue nodes and connections are actual network processes
    Green are those sought by niche activists
    Red are those sought, but which do not happen due to changed protective space – though other (blue) links arise instead

    Solar PV as an illustration?

    Build up of protection takes place in context of regime / selection environment. Claims need to be made in relation to the regime in order to secure additional, or more focused protection over time.

    Move from general protections to more specific over time?

    Protective space is really about the contexts in which radically different networks can be configured, and then spread?





  • Follow niche advocates, in the first instance.

    What kinds of additional protective space are they seeking, on the basis of experience with niche development to date, and expectations for future development?

    Such protections imply the mobilisation of resources from other actors

    Resources can be material, technological, economic, political, authoritative, legitimacy, institutional (resource dependency theory)

    Those other actors have their own economic and political interests

    Narratives can help re-define and relate different interests, and secure the resource interdependency needed to build the protective measure

  • So, niche advocates have to represent historic and projected niche development in the forms of narratives meaningful to key, resourceful actors.

    They have to be persuaded to commit to the niche, and to do this by furnishing resources

  • Engagement with narratives and mobilisation of resources is in relation to actors situated in the focal regime or associated regimes.

    Regimes imply power relations – hegemonic discourse, structurally privileged actors, access to large resources and privileges. This structures the ability of advocates to mobilise resources, and forces them into conflicts (with regimes and with contending niches).

    Actor perspectives upon the dynamics in those regimes will influence the receptiveness of the same actors to the narratives being deployed by niche advocates. E.g. is the regime troubled, declining profitability, socially and politically problematic, a new line of business or research endeavour etc

    This conceptualisation sees protective space as a political endeavour: convincing others to see their particular future in the collective future of the niche





  • 3 cases: PV, offshore wind, CCS
    2 countries: NL and UK

    The idea is that each case is of varying ‘distance’ and ‘fit’ with the regime, and so different in the kinds of protection required, whilst differing in their abilities to mobilise powerful actors to support protective measures.
  • Hold in reserve – for questions about the project
  • Aps easst presentation 2010

    1. 1. Niche protection in transitions to sustainability Paper for the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology Annual Conference at the University of Trento, Italy 2-4 September 2010 Adrian Smith (SPRU) and Rob Raven (TU Eindhoven)
    2. 2. A sustainability transitions problem framing Path-breaking innovations originate in niche settings that provide a ‘protective space’ where some regime-derived selection processes do not operate Regime selection environments / processes are multi-dimensional: Evolutionary economics Socio-technical transitions - socio-cognitive / heuristics - institutions - markets - infrastructures - institutions? - users - cultural associations - policy How does ‘protective space’ permit path-breaking novelties to flourish; and how does it contribute to systems innovation? From: incrementally innovating ‘regimes’ of socio-technical practices (enduring trajectories, yet troubling /destabilising) Towards: radically more environmentally sustainable and socially just regimes.
    3. 3. Protective space as a shield Selection factors in dominant regime Niche; partial shielding after Hoogma( 2000) socio-cognitive / heuristics markets institutions infrastructures users cultural associations policy and power
    4. 4. after Geels and Raven, 2006; Markard and Truffer, 2008 Protective space as an alternative selection environment Protective space B. Nurturing niche development: - expectations - networks - learning C. Empowering the niche: -mutual identities -niche interests - challenge and reform regime A. Shielding - alternative selection criteria: - socio-cognitive / heuristics - markets - institutions - infrastructures - users - cultural associations - policy
    5. 5. Removing or institutionalising protection? Protectionism Sustainability transitions Protection removed as niche adapts and becomes competitive under regime selection pressures (fitting) Protection institutionalised as part of a new regime largely based on innovative sustainability practices in the niche (stretching) Infant industries Protection is perpetuated by beneficiaries, so little pressure to continue innovating (capture)
    6. 6. Different types of protection Source of protection Empirical indicators Economic Public grants; price support; purchase obligations; RD&D funding; feed-in systems; long-term private investment commitments; Institutional Planning rules; grid connection rules; insurance schemes; rule exemptions (e.g. for environmental reporting); development of supporting norms and standards Socio-cognitive Promising claims; feasibility studies; training schemes; research programmes; conferences; best practice publications; establishment of intermediary organisations; Cultural References to the technology in wider symbolic context; statements of what the technology signifies for prevailing social values (of group or society); art such as images, movies and stories that positively portrait the technology; Geographic Locations of experiments with respect to resource endowments; proximity to existing infrastructures; articulated fit with local (socio- economic) problem agendas; Political Statements that link technologies to political goals; explicit mentioning of technologies in white papers; Ministerial commitments.
    7. 7. Piecemeal protection and niche development actual expected unrealised Time 1 Time 2 Time 3 Regime t1 Regime t2 Regime t3 Mobilising protections from the regime and against the regime
    8. 8. The social construction of protective space Expectations Social learning Networks Resources Actor interests Narratives
    9. 9. The social construction of protective space Expectations Social learning Networks Resources Actor interests Narratives
    10. 10. The social construction of protective space Expectations Social learning Networks Resources Actor interests Narratives
    11. 11. Protective space as network building Time 1 Time 2 Time 3 Global niche network Local experimentation Niche representations Resource flows Regime developments over time, windows of opportunity Design expectations, resources and lessons flow between global niche and local experiments Global niche grows, becomes more robust and empowered
    12. 12. Towards an analysis of the politics of protective space 1. Start with the niche – what is the state of learning / performance, network and expectations 2. What further protective measures are niche advocates seeking, and why? 3. What narratives are being engaged to argue for these protections? 4. Who are the target audiences and how are their interests being re-defined (if at all)? 5. What resources are being mobilised behind new protective measures (and with what new interests and narratives coming to bear)? 6. How are regime dynamics (and contending niches) structuring the ability of advocates to mobilise resources? 7. How does this influence the next phase of niche development? 8. Are any protective measures proving unnecessary, or becoming institutionalised?
    13. 13. Summarising: questions for future research Isn’t protection harmful for innovation? What is protective space? How do the dynamics of protection influence niche development, and vice versa? Who is involved in the construction of protection, and how do they do it? Where might we find answers?! How is protection built up, and then withdrawn?
    14. 14. Answers between now and September 2013 (perhaps )!? www.lowcarbonpolitics.org
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