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Towards a Systemic Understanding of Innovation

Part of the Sustainability and Innovation book series (SUSTAINABILITY)

So far we have discussed selected aspects of the electricity system and its transition over time. We surveyed the evolution of the technological, institutional and structural components of today’s electricity system in Germany, and assessed indicators for the diffusion and success of innovation as well as for its path dependency. All of these aspects are a necessary background for our research. However, both statistics and standardized indicators miss explanatory power with regard to the dynamics of innovation. While they are an important ingredient in capturing the innovation history and technological developments, they fail to capture the coevolutionary dynamics within the process of innovation and the interactive relation between the different elements of the electricity system in the innovation process, and they fail to indicate possible drivers and driven, and barriers to innovation in the electricity system. As we are interested in identifying options and the need for shaping the innovation and transformation path towards a sustainable future electricity system, we need a more complex conception of innovation and a more systemic understanding of the processes involved.

For this purpose, we first clarify the concept of innovation used in this book, and also the definition of sustainability as applied in analyzing the innovation cases. We then discuss suggestions for systemic perspectives on innovation dynamics with regard to their usefulness for the purpose of the innovation cases analyzed in this book. From this basis we derive the research design applied to the innovation case studies in this book.

Keywords

Innovation Process Electricity System National Innovation System Innovation Dynamic Transformation Path 
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.

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© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2009

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