This paper firstly assesses the usefulness of Christensen’s disruptive innovation framework for low-carbon system change, identifying three conceptual limitations with regard to the unit of analysis (products rather than systems), limited multi-dimensionality, and a simplistic (‘point source’) conception of change. Secondly, it shows that the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) offers a more comprehensive framework on all three dimensions. Thirdly, it reviews progress in socio-technical transition research and the MLP on these three dimensions and identifies new challenges, including ‘whole system’ reconfiguration, multi-dimensional struggles, bi-directional niche-regime interactions, and an alignment conception of change. To address these challenges, transition research should further deepen and broaden its engagement with the social sciences.
Read more about Frank Geels and his work at CIED.