Diversity of Countries and Companies Strategies: Applying the Multilevel Perspective on Sustainable Transitions to Analyze Alternatives to Dominant Regime

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Kyoto (2014)


The Multilevel Perspective on Sustainable Transitions (MLP) (Kemp,1994; Geels, 2002; Geels and Shot, 2007) has been widely used to explain different patterns of technological, societal, cultural and normative transitions in an integrated and systemic way. From the sociotechnical approach (a term derived from the organizational literature of the 1960s), an analytical framework has been created to understand macro processes of technological transitions and systemic innovations. This approach also argues that special attention should be devoted to niche development and stimulus (“Strategic Niche Management”). According to this view, the niche provides protection to radical innovations, acting as incubation rooms, enabling those innovations to develop and to eventually become competitive and thus contribute to changes in the course of Sustainable Transitions.

This framework can, and has already been used, to analyze the case of individual transportation based on internal combustion propelled automobiles, and developing niches that can challenge the existing dominant regimes, and eventually become new ones (see for example, Geels et.al, 2012). We can understand these niches as for example, new propulsion forms - such as electrical, hybrid or fuel cell engines; innovations in public transportation or intermodal mobility.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the case of the Brazilian automotive industry path towards a Sustainable Urban Mobility system, in comparison to what is happening in central developed countries - specialy, in Germany, using the Multilevel Perspective framework. In a recent and relevant work, Markard et.al (2012) deeply discussed this framework, highlighting some gaps and research opportunities in the MLP. One of these gaps is that much of the research developed using this framework was conducted using European cases, not considering different aspects of regional or country diversity, as well as different companies strategies.

Therefore, we propose to analyze and to compare the Brazilian and German cases, regarding sustainable urban mobility development. In order to accomplish this goal, we will analyze the diffusion level and different characteristics that explain the current level of development of four niches, in the aforementioned definition - electro mobility, car sharing schemes, intermodal transportation, and innovation in public transportation.

Empirically, we will compare sustainability reports of 2 German automotive companies that operate in Brazil with interviews conducted with Brazilian Managers. In addition, we will conduct a literature research about the theme, using for example, Mello, Marx and Souza (2013), Marx and Zilbovicius (2011).

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