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Policy mixes for sustainability transitions: An extended concept and framework for analysis

Journal Article

Reaching a better understanding of the policies and politics of transitions presents a main agenda item in the emerging field of sustainability transitions. One important requirement for these transitions, such as the move towards a decarbonized energy system, is the redirection and acceleration of technological change, for which policies play a key role. In this regard, several studies have argued for the need to combine different policy instruments in so-called policy mixes. However, existing policy mix studies often fall short of reflecting the complexity and dynamics of actual policy mixes, the underlying politics and the evaluation of their impacts. In this paper we take a first step towards an extended, interdisciplinary policy mix concept based on a review of the bodies of literature on innovation studies, environmental economics and policy analysis. The concept introduces a clear terminology and consists of the three building blocks elements, policy processes and characteristics, which can be delineated by several dimensions. Based on this, we discuss its application as analytical framework for empirical studies analyzing the impact of the policy mix on technological change. Throughout the paper we illustrate the proposed concept by using the example of the policy mix for fostering the transition of the German energy system to renewable power generation technologies. Finally, we derive policy implications and suggest avenues for future research.

Read more about our project on ‘Policy synergies and trade offs for low energy innovation‘.