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Abstract

Open Access available through: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2021.08.002 Offshore wind farms (OWF) are considered important for a timely energy transition. However, offshore space is governed by sector-specific institutional frameworks representing various and sometimes conflicting interests. Therefore, institutional change towards improved cooperation and coordination between various stakeholders, their interests and alternative institutional frameworks is necessary. Institutional work is used as an analytical lens to explore patterns resulting from the interplay between different forms of institutional work by actors over time. Data was collected through participatory observation of the Dutch North Sea Dialogues (NSD) and focused on balancing interest in the context of multi-use of OFW. Institutional change in this case relied mostly on a highly subtle interplay between forms of creating and maintaining work that result in incremental changes to existing practices. Sustainability transitions could benefit from institutional harmonization as a pathway to institutional change for improved cross-sectoral coordination and cooperation.

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... Next, some strategies deliberately intend institutional change, while other strategies' institutional change is a nonintentional byproduct. The former are formally called institutional design strategies (e.g., Klijn & Koppenjan, 2006), the latter are more ordinary and mundane work strategies at microinteraction level (Beunen & Patterson, 2019;Van Buuren et al., 2016;Spijkerboer et al., 2021). We include both categories in our literature study so as to comprehensively investigate institutional change and the role of institutional design and actors, hence we use the term institutional design strategies for both. ...
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Research on sustainability transitions has expanded rapidly in the last ten years, diversified in terms of topics and geographical applications, and deepened with respect to theories and methods. This article provides an extensive review and an updated research agenda for the field, classified into nine main themes: understanding transitions; power, agency and politics; governing transitions; civil society, culture and social movements; businesses and industries; transitions in practice and everyday life; geography of transitions; ethical aspects; and methodologies. The review shows that the scope of sustainability transitions research has broadened and connections to established disciplines have grown stronger. At the same time, we see that the grand challenges related to sustainability remain unsolved, calling for continued efforts and an acceleration of ongoing transitions. Transition studies can play a key role in this regard by creating new perspectives, approaches and understanding and helping to move society in the direction of sustainability.
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This paper develops an analytical approach to explore institutional barriers to spatial integration between renewable energy (RE) and other land use functions and provides insight into opportunities for institutional harmonization between involved policy domains. Spatial integration of RE with other land use functions provides opportunities to use limited amounts of space more efficiently, allowing for a more fluent roll-out of renewable technologies. However, such integration requires the involvement of various policy domains that are each guided by specific institutional frameworks, which are often tailored to specific sectoral needs. Therefore, spatial integration of RE and other land use functions requires institutional harmonization between involved policy domains. However, there is limited guidance in literature on how such harmonization does or could occur. Moreover, while literature on RE recognizes the merits of institutional approaches, it focuses on institutions as the formal rules of the game, often disregarding the agency component (the ‘play of the game’). The analytical approach developed in this paper combines the Institutional Analysis and Development framework with insights from Discursive Institutionalism. The approach enables structured assessment of relationships within and between established institutions (the ‘rules of the game’) and actors’ ideas, interpretations and deliberations regarding these institutions (the ‘play of the game’), providing insight in processes of institutional harmonization. This analytical approach is applied to the case of spatial integration of photovoltaics with national transport infrastructure networks in the Netherlands. The findings from the case show that (1) insight in interrelations between institutional barriers is crucial for addressing institutional harmonization; (2) institutional harmonization within policy domains is a precondition for harmonization between policy domains; and (3) the agency component (play of the game) is key to successful harmonization. In conclusion, the analytical approach provides insight into the co-evolution between the rules of the game and the play of the game, which is pivotal to institutional harmonization.
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Case study research is a comprehensive method that incorporates multiple sources of data to provide detailed accounts of complex research phenomena in real-life contexts. However, current models of case study research do not particularly distinguish the unique contribution observation data can make. Observation methods have the potential to reach beyond other methods that rely largely or solely on self-report. This article describes the distinctive characteristics of case study observational research, a modified form of Yin’s 2014 model of case study research the authors used in a study exploring interprofessional collaboration in primary care. In this approach, observation data are positioned as the central component of the research design. Case study observational research offers a promising approach for researchers in a wide range of health care settings seeking more complete understandings of complex topics, where contextual influences are of primary concern. Future research is needed to refine and evaluate the approach.
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A unique contribution of institutional theory is the insight that organizations need legitimacy as well as technical efficiency to survive and thrive in their envIronments (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Meyer & Rowan, 1977). The institutionalized norms, practices, and logics which structure organizational fields exert isomorphic pressures, forming an “Iron cage” which constrains organizational actions. Organizations are seen as legitimate when they conform to field structures and operate within the Iron cage (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983). Much work in institutional theory has focused on the diffusion of institutional structures and the forces which support institutional isomorphism. Yet not all institutional envIronments are highly institutionalized, and not all actors are equally constrained by institutional arrangements. A great deal of work in the last two decades has shown that institutional entrepreneurs may arise to question institutional arrangements (DiMaggio, 1988), resisting them strategically (Oliver, 1991; Ang & Cummings, 1997), disrupting and deinstitutionalizing them (Ahmadjian & Robinson, 2001; Oliver, 1992), and reconstructing them to suit the desires of different actors (Anand & Peterson, 2000; Hargadon & Douglas, 2001; Zilber, 2002). Much of the prior work on institutional entrepreneurship has tended to focus retrospectively on the path of a single institutional innovation as it gained support in an emerging or existing field, often displacing an existing set of institutional arrangements (e.g. Greenwood, Suddaby & Hinings, 2002; Maguire, Hardy & Lawrence, 2004; Munir, 2005). Throughout this work, competing or independently evolving innovations which may also have been candidates for institutionalization are generally not discussed.
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Literature on socio-technical transitions has primarily emphasized the co-determination of institutions and technologies. In this paper, we want to focus on how actors play a mediating role between these two pillars of a socio-technical system. By introducing the theoretical concept of institutional work, we contribute to the conceptualization and empirical assessment of agency processes in socio-technical systems. We illustrate this approach by analyzing recent developments in the Australian urban water sector, where seawater desalination technology has experienced an unexpected, but rapid diffusion to all major cities, often interpreted as a reaction to a major multi-year drought. However, the drought broke and left all but one plant unused. This has led many commentators wonder how such a massive investment - which is likely to limit alternative development trajectories in the sector for the coming decades - could have happened so quickly and why other, potentially more sustainable technologies, have not been able to use the momentum of the crisis to break through. A comparative analysis between seawater desalination and its main rival wastewater recycling in regard to processes of institutional work provides valuable insight into how technology, actors and institutions mutually shaped each other.
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Institutional entrepreneurship In this chapter, we review the emerging and rapidly growing body of organizational research on institutional entrepreneurship. This term refers to the ‘activities of actors who have an interest in particular institutional arrangements and who leverage resources to create new institutions or to transform existing ones’ (Maguire, Hardy & Lawrence, 2004: 657); while institutional entrepreneurs are those actors to whom the responsibility for new or changed institutions is attributed. These concepts are most closely associated with DiMaggio's (1988: 14) work in which he argued that ‘new institutions arise when organized actors with sufficient resources (institutional entrepreneurs) see in them an opportunity to realize interests that they value highly’. Institutional entrepreneurs can also work to maintain or to disrupt and tear down institutions, although there is far less research in these areas as compared to studies of institution building and institutional change (Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006). The recent growth ...
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This study takes an institutional perspective on industry creation, which argues that an industry’s maturation relies on a process of building legitimacy and establishing rules for competition. It addresses the institutional evolution process that an industry experiences, in which existing rules for competition are disrupted and replaced by new regulatory frameworks, technological standards, and business models. These interruptions are referred to as institutional shifts. The study seeks to understand the role of specific actors in creating institutional shifts that drive an industry’s institutional evolution process. Based on a study of the global solar industry over the period of 1982 to 2012, the findings suggest that the industry’s institutional evolution was driven by an interplay of different public and private actors that influenced one another over time and across national borders. To create institutional shifts, companies employed a mechanism based on knowledge diffusion, while governments used a stimuli-based mechanism instead.
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It has become increasingly clear that a transition to low-carbon energy systems, including a widespread diffusion of renewable energy technologies (RETs), is necessary for the world to handle the challenges of climate change. Previous innovation system oriented research has identified barriers to development and early-stage diffusion of RETs, but more research is needed to understand what kind of institutional frameworks and governance tools are needed to achieve effective large-scale diffusion at a stage when technologies are commercially available and new demand-side actors become involved. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to identify the main challenges faced by adopters of renewable electricity technologies under different institutional frameworks as well as their strategies for overcoming them. Results based on a qualitative multiple case study of 28 adopters in France and in Sweden show that adopters were faced with system-level challenges, such as market-structure obstacles and lack of institutional routines, as well as actor-level challenges, such as lack of resources or behavioral characteristics. The study also highlights the difference between blocking and restraining challenges and proposes that barriers are better thought of as challenges that can be overcome. It shows the importance for policy makers to consider not only system-level diffusion challenges, but also to understand actor-level contexts, including the behaviors of adopters who contribute to the transition. A further understanding how new entrants have managed to overcome existing challenges may provide new policy tools to facilitate the adoption for new adopters, for instance by encouraging the use of networks or by supplying specific information to potential adopters who lack it.
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Drawing on institutional theory emphasizing translation and discourse, we explore outsider-driven deinstitutionalization through a case study of the abandonment of widespread, taken-for-granted practices of DDT use between 1962 and 1972. Our findings illustrate how abandonment of practices results from "problematizations" that-through subsequent "translation"- change discourse in ways that undermine the institutional pillars supporting practices. This occurs through new "subject positions" from which actors speak and act in support of problematizations, and new bodies of knowledge, which normalize them. We introduce the concept of "defensive institutional work" and illustrate how actors carry out disruptive and defensive work by authoring texts.
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We use a dialectical perspective to provide a unique framework for understanding institutional change that more fully captures its totalistic, historical, and dynamic nature, as well as fundamentally resolves a theoretical dilemma of institutional theory: the relative swing between agency and embeddedness. In this framework institutional change is understood as an outcome of the dynamic interactions between two institutional by-products: institutional contradictions and human praxis. In particular, we depict praxis - agency embedded in a totality of multiple levels of interpenetrating, incompatible institutional arrangements (centradictions)-as an essential driving force of institutional change.
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While most studies of low-carbon transitions focus on green niche-innovations, this paper shifts attention to the resistance by incumbent regime actors to fundamental change. Drawing on insights from political economy, the paper introduces politics and power into the multi-level perspective. Instrumental, discursive, material and institutional forms of power and resistance are distinguished and illustrated with examples from the UK electricity system. The paper concludes that the resistance and resilience of coal, gas and nuclear production regimes currently negates the benefits from increasing renewables deployment. It further suggests that policymakers and many transition-scholars have too high hopes that green' innovation will be sufficient to bring about low-carbon transitions. Future agendas in research and policy should therefore pay much more attention to the destabilization and decline of existing fossil fuel regimes.
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A broader pool of expertise is needed to understand how human behaviour affects energy demand and the uptake of technologies, says Benjamin K. Sovacool.
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This research aims to identify the institutional strategies of incumbent firms with regard to sustainable energy innovations that threaten their interests. This exploratory study contributes to the multi-level perspective by providing new insights into niche–regime interaction. The focus on actor behavior in transitions is informed by literature from institutional theory and strategic management. Based on semi-structured interviews with actors and on documents related to LED lighting and biofuels in the Netherlands, this study identified a preliminary set of empirical strategies: providing information and arguments to policy makers and the general public, as well as strategically setting technical standards. Incumbents are in a position to significantly influence the innovation's development by employing these strategies; thus temporarily keeping sustainable innovation on a leash. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
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In recent years, socio-technical transitions literature has gained importance in addressing long-term, transformative change in various industries. In order to account for the inertia and path-dependency experienced in these sectors, the concept of the socio-technical regime has been formulated. Socio-technical regimes denote the paradigmatic core of a sector, which results from the co-evolution of institutions and technologies over time. Despite its widespread acceptance, the regime concept has repeatedly been criticized for lacking a clear operationalization. As a consequence, empirical applications tend to depict regimes as too ‘monolithic’ and ‘homogenous’, not adequately considering persistent institutional tensions and contradictions. These are however crucial for assessing transition dynamics. In this paper, we revisit two concepts from institutional theory that enable an explicit identification of socio-technical regimes and more generally a specification of the ‘semi-coherence’ of socio-technical systems. First, we will show that ‘levels of structuration’ can be conceptualized as degrees of institutionalization, thereby treating institutionalization as a variable with different effects on actors, the stability of the system and thus the potential for change. Secondly, we draw on the institutional logics approach to characterize the content of various structural elements present in a system and to trace conflicts and contradictions between them. We illustrate this approach with an empirical in-depth analysis of the transformation of the Australian urban water sector since the 1970ies.
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Over the last 5–10 years, marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged as a new management regime for national and international waters and has already attracted a substantial body of multi-disciplinary research on its goals and policy processes. This paper argues that this literature has generally lacked deeper reflexive engagement with the emerging system of governance for our seas that has meant that many of MSP's core concepts, assumptions and institutional arrangements have not been subject rigorous intellectual debate. In an attempt to initiate such an approach, this article explores the relationship between MSP and its land-based cousin, terrestrial spatial planning (TSP). While it is recognized that there are inherent limitations to a comparison of these two systems, it is argued that the tradition of social science debate over the purpose and processes of TSP can be used as a useful stimulus for a more rigorous reflection of such issues as they relate to MSP. The article therefore explores some of the parallels between MSP and TSP and then discusses some of the key intellectual traditions that have shaped TSP and the implications these may have for future marine planning practice. The article concludes with a number of potentially useful new avenues that may form the basis of a critical research agenda for MSP.