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What is protective space? Reconsidering niches in transitions to sustainability

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  • Adrian Smith

    ()

  • Rob P.J.M. Raven

    ()

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    Abstract

    The transitions literature emphasises the role of niches, defined as a protective space for path-breaking innovations. Surprisingly, the concept of protection has not been systematically interrogated. Our analysis identifies protection as having three functions in wider transition processes: shielding, nurturing and empowerment. Empowerment, understood as processes and mechanisms that contribute to changes in mainstream selection environments in ways favourable to the path-breaking innovation, is considered the least developed in current niche development literature. We argue that these properties need to be understood from an agency perspective, with attention for the politics involved in their realisation. The paper ends with an outlook upon two promising research avenues: 1) the reconstruction of niche development pathways in light of the present framework; 2) analyses of the diverse (political) narratives seeking to empower niches across time and space.

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    File URL: http://cms.tm.tue.nl/Ecis/Files/papers/wp2011/wp1105.pdf
    File Function: Version August 2011
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) in its series Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series with number 11-05.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2011
    Date of revision: Aug 2011
    Handle: RePEc:dgr:tuecis:wpaper:1105

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    Web page: http://ecis.ieis.tue.nl/

    Related research

    Keywords: transitions; sustainability; niches;

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    1. Mario Cimoli & Giovanni Dosi & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2008. "The Political Economy of Capabilities Accumulation: the Past and Future of Policies for Industrial Development. A Preface," LEM Papers Series 2008/15, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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    11. Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy & Peter Karnøe, 2010. "Path Dependence or Path Creation?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 760-774, 06.
    12. Steenblik, Ronald P, 1995. "A note on the concept of `subsidy'," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 483-484, June.
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