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Projects, Agency and the Multi-Level Perspective


  • Sylvain Lenfle

    (CNAM - Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers [CNAM], i3-CRG - Centre de recherche en gestion i3 - X - École polytechnique - Université Paris-Saclay - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


This paper discusses the role of projects in technological transitions. Based on a case study of a technological transition in numerical weather prediction the paper discusses the multi-level perspective (MLP) framework developed by F. Geels & al. (2002 & next). This framework has been criticized for its macro-level perspective and its difficulty to deal with the question of agency. Our research suggests that the project level constitutes a promising avenue to discuss this question in the multi-level perspectives framework. It demonstrates how, in this case, a project play a major role in the transition from one technological regime to another and how at the project level actors can be included more precisely in the MLP. In so doing it also propose a type of transition not envisioned by the MLP research. Finally we suggest that bridging MLP and project management research, particularly contemporary works on innovative projects, could be fruitful for both fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Lenfle, 2017. "Projects, Agency and the Multi-Level Perspective," Post-Print hal-01574741, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01574741
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Engwall, Mats, 2003. "No project is an island: linking projects to history and context," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 789-808, May.
    2. Smith, Adrian & Stirling, Andy & Berkhout, Frans, 2005. "The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1491-1510, December.
    3. Pascal Le Masson & Benoit Weil & Armand Hatchuel & Patrick Cogez, 2012. "Why aren't they locked in waiting games? Unlocking rules and the ecology of concepts in the semiconductor industry," Post-Print hal-00870358, HAL.
    4. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-1171, September.
    5. Penna, Caetano C.R. & Geels, Frank W., 2015. "Climate change and the slow reorientation of the American car industry (1979–2012): An application and extension of the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle (DILC) model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(5), pages 1029-1048.
    6. Sylvain Lenfle & Christoph Loch, 2010. "Lost Roots: How Project Management Came to Emphasize Control Over Flexibility and Novelty," Post-Print hal-00557549, HAL.
    7. Geels, Frank W. & Penna, Caetano C.R., 2015. "Societal problems and industry reorientation: Elaborating the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle (DILC) model and a case study of car safety in the USA (1900–1995)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 67-82.
    8. Genus, Audley & Coles, Anne-Marie, 2008. "Rethinking the multi-level perspective of technological transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1436-1445, October.
    9. Felix von Pechmann & Christophe Midler & Rémi Maniak & Florence Charue-Duboc, 2015. "Managing systemic and disruptive innovation: lessons from the Renault Zero Emission Initiative," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 677-695.
    10. Sylvain Lenfle, 2008. "Exploration and Project Management," Post-Print hal-00404168, HAL.
    11. William J. Abernathy & Richard S. Rosenbloom, 1969. "Parallel Strategies in Development Projects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(10), pages 486-505, June.
    12. Burton Klein & William Meckling, 1958. "Application of Operations Research to Development Decisions," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 6(3), pages 352-363, June.
    13. Geels, Frank W. & Schot, Johan, 2007. "Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 399-417, April.
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    More about this item


    Project; technological transition; multi-level perspective; agency; numerical weather prediction.; Projet; transition technologique; perspective multi-niveaux; agencéité; prévision numérique du temps.;

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