Governing the Transition of Socio-technical Systems: A Case Study of the Development of Smart Grids in Korea

  • Daphne Mah
  • Johannes Marinus van der Vleuten
  • Jasper Chi-man Ip
  • Peter Hills
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


This chapter examines the motivations, processes, and outcomes of the development of smart grids in South Korea through the perspectives of governance and innovation systems. Drawing on desktop research and semi-structured interviews, this chapter has two major findings. First, the development of smart grids in Korea has been shaped by various factors including macroeconomic policy, the role of the government, and experimentation. The complex interactions between these factors at the landscape, regime, and niche levels have impacted on the development of smart grids. Second, while Korea’s government-led approach has its strengths in driving change, it has also exposed weaknesses in the country’s ability to mobilise the private sector and consumer participation. Major obstacles including partial electricity market reform and public distrust exist. A systemic perspective is needed for policy in order to accommodate the changes required for smart grid development. Regulatory reforms, particularly price-setting mechanisms, and consumer engagement are priority areas for policy change.


Innovation System Smart Grid Dynamic Price Electricity Sector Macroeconomic Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter is an updated republication of the paper “Governing the transition of socio-technical systems: A case study of the development of smart grids in Korea” by Daphne Ngar-yin Mah, Johannes Marinus van der Vleuten, Jasper Chi-man Ip, Peter Ronald Hills, Energy Policy 45, 133–141. The copyright permission for reusing the paper has been granted by Elsevier. We would like to acknowledge appreciation to our anonymous interviewees in Korea for contributing their insights and providing useful information. We gratefully acknowledge the funding of this research by the University of Hong Kong through the Initiative on Clean Energy and Environment, and the Hong Kong Baptist University through the Faculty Research Grant of Faculty of Social Sciences (FRG2/12-13/057 and FRG1/13-14/051). We remain solely responsible for any errors and omissions in the findings and interpretations expressed in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daphne Mah
    • 1
    • 2
  • Johannes Marinus van der Vleuten
    • 2
  • Jasper Chi-man Ip
    • 1
  • Peter Hills
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.The Kadoorie InstituteThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong

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