Applying Institutional Theory to the Low-Carbon Energy Transition
The low-carbon energy transition is a form of socio-technical transition and, as such, it involves profound changes in the institutions that govern society. Despite the acknowledged importance of institutions in shaping the pace and nature of transition, a relatively small proportion of the academic literature on the topic applies institutional theory to the analysis of this transition in a systematic and detailed manner, and these accounts draw mainly on organizational and sociological institutionalism. This paper aims to demonstrate the benefits of applying a wider set of institutional theories to the study of the low-carbon energy transition. It draws principally, but not solely, on rational choice and historical institutionalism with selective reference being made to key concepts within social and organisational institutionalism as well as discursive institutionalism. The paper demonstrates the high degree of parallelism that exists between the literatures on socio-technical regimes and institutions, and also shows how the systematic application of institutionalism can provide a deeper understanding of socio-technical transitions. It concludes by outlining the main elements of a research agenda relating to the low-carbon energy transition.
Prepublication draft. October 2015.
Published in Energy Research and Social Science, 2016
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