IHDP Knowledge Transfer Database

Industrial Transformation

Core Project

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The Industrial Transformation project (IT) aimed at better understanding change in production and consumption systems with major impacts on the global environment. While the initial focus was on technological change, IT research increasingly began to consider technical change within institutional and social contexts. There is broadly shared scientific and political agreement that existing socio-technical systems in many important economic and social domains are unsustainable and require major transformations. IT's work over the last decade showed that socio-technical transformations were common in the past, and that co-evolutionary changes have taken place in technologies coupled with social, institutional and economic changes. Future 'sustainability transitions' are likely to have similar characteristics, however, past transitions were not framed by an overarching societal objective like sustainability. The challenge will be to understand how they may be governed through the coordination of societal actors. IT has sought to initiate a new research agenda on the conditions under which experiments emerge and form alternatives to the existing socio-technical regimes. It has shifted the focus of its agenda from rich, industrialized countries to contexts in rapidly industrializing and urbanizing Asia.