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Exploring the role of failure in socio-technical transitions research

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-12, 09:32 authored by Bruno Turnheim, Benjamin SovacoolBenjamin Sovacool
In this paper, we offer a comprehensive and interdisciplinary review of ‘failure’ in transitions research. What is meant by failure, and is the community biased against it? How is failure explained through different perspectives? How can failures be addressed more appropriately in transitions studies? We synthesize a large body of evidence spanning transitions studies, innovation studies, science and technology studies, organisation and management studies, policy studies and the history of technology to probe and sharpen these questions. We examine within these literatures the instances and possibilities of success with transitions and discuss why this may be problematic, organising our analysis around four types of bias (selection, cognitive, interpretive, and prescription). In addition, we review three ‘families’ of framings of failure put forward in and around the socio-technical transitions literature, notably discrete failure events, systemic failings and processual accounts of failure, and discuss how they can be constructively put to work.

Funding

UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand; G2424; EPSRC-ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL; EP/R035288/1

Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand; G1020; RCUK-RESEARCH COUNCILS UK; EP/K011790/1

History

Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version

Journal

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

ISSN

2210-4224

Publisher

Elsevier

Volume

37

Page range

267-289

Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date

2020-10-12

First Open Access (FOA) Date

2020-10-12

First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date

2020-10-09

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