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Lock-in of mature innovation systems : The transformation toward clean concrete in the Netherlands

Wesseling, Joeri Hendrik LU and Van der Vooren, Alexander (2016) In Journal of Cleaner Production
Abstract

Energy-intensive processing industries like the concrete industry form the base of the economy and account for a large part of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sectoral transformation to cleaner basic materials is therefore crucial, and institutional pressure to do so is increasing. However, socio-technical studies have not sufficiently addressed these sectors. This paper therefore sets out to analyze the systemic problems that inhibit the transformation of the mature innovation system of the concrete sector toward the development and diffusion of clean concrete innovations, for the case of the Netherlands. A structural-functional approach has been frequently applied to identify such systemic problems, but has been limited to emerging... (More)

Energy-intensive processing industries like the concrete industry form the base of the economy and account for a large part of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sectoral transformation to cleaner basic materials is therefore crucial, and institutional pressure to do so is increasing. However, socio-technical studies have not sufficiently addressed these sectors. This paper therefore sets out to analyze the systemic problems that inhibit the transformation of the mature innovation system of the concrete sector toward the development and diffusion of clean concrete innovations, for the case of the Netherlands. A structural-functional approach has been frequently applied to identify such systemic problems, but has been limited to emerging technological innovation systems. Consequently, the approach tends to overlook the systemic lock-in that arises from closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems and vested interests that characterize mature innovation systems and that hamper system transformation. This paper analyzes these characteristics to extend the application of the structural-functional approach to the transformation of mature innovation systems. Interviews with 28 stakeholders were conducted and triangulated with reports, websites and other documents. A list of systemic problems was identified that originate within actors, institutions, networks, technology and infrastructure and that impaired the performance of all system functions except knowledge development. Systemic problems are indeed found to be sustained through systemic lock-in, i.e. closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems. Through strategic, often collective action, established firms with vested interests were able to reinforce these interdependent systemic problems to inhibit clean concrete innovation. The study concludes that systemic lock-in inhibits the sustainability transformation of the mature innovation system of concrete in the Netherlands and confirms that the application of the structural-functional approach can be extended from emerging to mature innovation systems. Overcoming systemic lock-in requires a series of well coordinated policy measures that should be implemented in a specific order, to prevent reverting back to the lock-in around the original system configuration.

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epub
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in
Journal of Cleaner Production
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84995389735
  • wos:000402348400011
ISSN
0959-6526
DOI
10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.08.115
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
1a9fe95a-80b0-4f7b-9d6f-96a1e5be97e6
date added to LUP
2017-04-21 10:50:05
date last changed
2017-09-18 13:32:48
@article{1a9fe95a-80b0-4f7b-9d6f-96a1e5be97e6,
  abstract     = {<p>Energy-intensive processing industries like the concrete industry form the base of the economy and account for a large part of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sectoral transformation to cleaner basic materials is therefore crucial, and institutional pressure to do so is increasing. However, socio-technical studies have not sufficiently addressed these sectors. This paper therefore sets out to analyze the systemic problems that inhibit the transformation of the mature innovation system of the concrete sector toward the development and diffusion of clean concrete innovations, for the case of the Netherlands. A structural-functional approach has been frequently applied to identify such systemic problems, but has been limited to emerging technological innovation systems. Consequently, the approach tends to overlook the systemic lock-in that arises from closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems and vested interests that characterize mature innovation systems and that hamper system transformation. This paper analyzes these characteristics to extend the application of the structural-functional approach to the transformation of mature innovation systems. Interviews with 28 stakeholders were conducted and triangulated with reports, websites and other documents. A list of systemic problems was identified that originate within actors, institutions, networks, technology and infrastructure and that impaired the performance of all system functions except knowledge development. Systemic problems are indeed found to be sustained through systemic lock-in, i.e. closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems. Through strategic, often collective action, established firms with vested interests were able to reinforce these interdependent systemic problems to inhibit clean concrete innovation. The study concludes that systemic lock-in inhibits the sustainability transformation of the mature innovation system of concrete in the Netherlands and confirms that the application of the structural-functional approach can be extended from emerging to mature innovation systems. Overcoming systemic lock-in requires a series of well coordinated policy measures that should be implemented in a specific order, to prevent reverting back to the lock-in around the original system configuration.</p>},
  author       = {Wesseling, Joeri Hendrik and Van der Vooren, Alexander},
  issn         = {0959-6526},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
  title        = {Lock-in of mature innovation systems : The transformation toward clean concrete in the Netherlands},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.08.115},
  year         = {2016},
}