'Transition management and Strategic Niche Management presuppose each other'

‘To make a sustainable transition possible first it must be seen in a much wider institutional context in which many things are changing. To make it happen, second, a lot of work is needed: overcoming power differences, achieving legitimacy and building trust. Third, this work must be must be done by a variety of actors at a variety of loci.

Therefore, Transition Management and Strategic Niche Management presuppose each other. Transition management essentially depends on experiments. Strategic management of niche experiments essentially needs be embedded in niche-regime interaction. And as noted, both need strategic action.'

John Grin
23 May 22:49

I guess Derk Loorbach's response takes us to the heart of the issue. It touches upon two issues. First, what is a niche and how does it work. In early conceptions of strategic niche management, the idea was that a niche would be created and then experiments would take place under its protection. Once the innovations nutured in the niche had matured enough, they would help change the world including the incumbent regime. If we follow that view, transition management would indeed have to precede niche experiments. But in more recent formulations, niche experiments include the shaping of expectations (Rob Raven ) as well as the use of socio-technical scenarios (Boelie Elzen, Peter Hofman and Frank Geels) that me inspire different ways to frame the world.

Why I still think that they need transition management is because I feel that a regime may rarely be transformed by niche actors alone. Second, I believe that there is no linear order: first innovative, participatory processes, then experiments. Experiments may help legitimize and therefore enable TM efforts by showing the feasibility and acceptability of 'doing differently'. As such they may precede, or run prallel to, the work done in an arena.

Derk Loorbach
19 May 16:23

Transition management certainly depends on experiments, but not in the way John Grin states. Transition management in practice is about developing societal space (niches) for transition governance. In transition -arena's, -platforms and -experiments, people are brought together to collectively frame complex societal issues, develop shared narratives (leitmotivs) and co-create strategies and pathways. The objective and idea is that out of these types of innovative participatory processes, the involved actors will start to look differently at the world around them in their daily context, and as a result start to behave differently (i.e. more in line with an overarching desired transition).

This could lead to new policy initiatives, changed routines, institutional change, new research, local action, but also to new experiments. In essence, transition management is therefore about creating space in society to do experiments, after which strategic niche management comes in.

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This site is founded and managed by the KSI foundation in the Netherlands. It aims at a continuing discussion on topics addressed in the Routledge Sustainability Transitions book series. Discussions begin with blogs by editors & authors. Webeditor is Johan Schot. Guest bloggers are welcome. Contact us! read more>
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Transitions to Sustainable Development

by John Grin, Jan Rotmans, Johan Schot, in collaboration with Frank Geels and Derk Loorbach

This recent study, published by Routledge, presents and combines three perspectives on transitions to a sustainable society: complexity theory, inn

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