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Incumbent Actors as Niche Agents: The German Car Industry and the Taming of the “Stuttgart E-Mobility Region”

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  • Philipp Späth

    (Institute of Social Environmental Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, Germany Tennenbacherstrasse 4, Freiburg 79106, Germany)

  • Harald Rohracher

    (Department of Thematic Studies—Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, Linköping 581 83, Sweden)

  • Alanus Von Radecki

    (Fraunhofer IAO, Nobelstraße 12, Stuttgart 70569, Germany)

Abstract

The system of mobility currently faces severe challenges. Particularly in cities, strategic interventions are made to support a transition towards sustainable mobility. Incumbent actors from the car industry are often invited to play a key role in such initiatives. The Stuttgart region is supported with public money to become a model region of sustainable mobility because it is base to key actors of the German car industry. This paper examines the locus of agency in such a “transition arena”. How do key actors frame the challenge of sustainable mobility? What role is attributed to public policy at various governance levels and to the “local” industry, respectively? In the case of the Stuttgart region, we find a high ability of key industry actors to reframe transition initiatives for sustainable mobility and align public policy with their interests—particularly in local, i.e. , place-bound contexts. This underlines the need for transition studies to pay more attention to the agency of incumbent actors and their capacity to absorb sustainable alternatives without changing dominant industry structures.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipp Späth & Harald Rohracher & Alanus Von Radecki, 2016. "Incumbent Actors as Niche Agents: The German Car Industry and the Taming of the “Stuttgart E-Mobility Region”," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 8(3), pages 1-16, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:3:p:252-:d:65783
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