This paper develops a conceptual understanding of transformative innovations as shared activities, ideas and objects across locally rooted sustainability initiatives that explore and develop alternatives to incumbent and (perceived) unsustainable regimes that they seek to challenge, alter or replace. We synthesize empirical work from two European research projects (TRANSIT and ARTS), in which initiatives and networks were empirically studied, to develop a broader conceptual understanding of the emergence of transformative innovation. The development of initiatives can occur through growing, replicating, partnering, instrumentalising and embedding. This is supported through translocal networks that connect initiatives by sharing ideas, objects and activities across local contexts. This translocal characteristic of transformative innovations harnesses an enormous potential for sustainability transitions, but requires further understanding as well as governance support. The perspective we present provides a conceptual starting point to further explore the development and diffusion of transformative innovation as well as transition governance strategies.
Publication date: June 2020
DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam