Non‐governmental organisations and universities as transition intermediaries in sustainability transformations building on grassroots initiatives

Patricia Wolf*, Julie Harboe, Catherine Sudbrack Rothbarth, Urs Gaudenz, Leyla Arsan, Chris Obrist, Manon Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Although niche grassroots initiatives can push bottom-up sustainability transitions, they can face problems in forming a more global niche and in scaling their innovative solutions to a regime level. A thorough literature review shows scholarly agreement on the assumption that universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can support sustainability transition in the acceleration phase by intermediating within niches and between niches and regimes. As in-depth research and a reality check on successful intermediary strategies in this context are still lacking, this paper aims to contribute to a conceptual framework that integrates the NGOs and universities expected activities in existing literature and relates them to one another. We develop such a framework and test it in three case studies from the plastic revaluation field, comparing and drawing on the perspectives of niche, intermediary and regime actors. Findings confirm the conceptual framework and suggest changes and extensions. We enhance existing knowledge by providing detailed insights into successful intermediary activities in these innovation systems and draw conclusions for policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCreativity and Innovation Management
Volume30
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)596-618
ISSN0963-1690
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • NGO
  • grassroots communities
  • innovation systems
  • intermediaries
  • plastic revaluation
  • sustainability transition
  • universities

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