The destabilisation of existing regimes in socio-technical transitions: theoretical explorations and in-depth case studies of the British coal industry (1880-2011)

Turnheim, Bruno (2012) The destabilisation of existing regimes in socio-technical transitions: theoretical explorations and in-depth case studies of the British coal industry (1880-2011). Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis, which addresses an innovation studies audience, deals with a neglected
topic in the study of socio-technical transitions: the destabilisation and decline of
established industries. While most of the transitions literature focuses on the emergence
of novelty, this thesis investigates the productive role of destabilisation and processes of
unlocking of existing regimes.
The research question is:
How can we understand the unfolding of industry destabilisation processes?
To answer this question, this thesis aims to make theoretical contributions by
developing an integrative framework that overcomes shortcomings in existing views of
destabilisation. Insights from a number of different approaches are mobilised as
‘building blocks’ for theoretical elaboration. Destabilisation is understood as a process
involving: 1) multiple interacting pressures, 2) industry strategies and responses to
(economic and legitimacy) challenges, and 3) decreasing commitment to industry
regime rules. The theoretical perspective addresses: a) destabilisation as a long-term
unfolding process, b) the multi-dimensional and co-evolutionary nature of
destabilisation, and c) the role of normative problems in destabilisation.
To assess the robustness of the conceptual perspective, the thesis studies three cases of
destabilisation:
- The destabilisation of the British coal industry in the transition from the
omnipresence of coal to a four-fuel economy (1880-1967)
- The destabilisation and decline of British deep coal mining in the electricity sector
(1967-1997)
- The destabilisation of coal use in the transition towards low-carbon electricity
(1990-2011). Possible revival?
The case studies show the usefulness of the conceptual framework. The analysis of
patterns and causal mechanisms further identifies similarities and differences of
destabilisation pathways in the cases. Specificities in the kinds, rates, interaction and
timing of these dynamics produce different destabilisation patterns.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9506 Mineral and metal industries > HD9551.5 Coal. By region or country. Great Britain. General works. History
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2012 06:40
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 14:47
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41031

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