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Inducing large-scale diffusion of innovation: An integrated actor- and system-level approach
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project Innovations and Entrepreneurship. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In order for the innovation process to be successful, not only do innovations need to be developed and reached the market, but, once they are available for users, they have to spread on a large scale. In the innovation literature, a complete explanation is lacking of why some innovations reach a phase of large-scale diffusion faster than others, including both actor- and system-level components. For instance, what drives and hinders adopters to decide to adopt the innovation on the actor and system levels, and how adopters who participate in the largescale diffusion handle the adoption process and the implementation of the innovation, are questions still unanswered. As a consequence, it remains unclear how the large-scale diffusion process can be facilitated and speeded up.

This thesis addresses these issues by studying the case of renewable electricity (RE) innovations. After decades of technology development and improvements, RE innovations are now mature enough to be bought off-the-shelf by individuals and organizations. Yet, the pace of their large-scale diffusion is still too slow for countries to reach their RE generation targets and to limit global warming.

Through qualitative and quantitative methods including 59 semi-structured interviews with adopters, project developers and experts in Sweden, France and Germany as well as a survey sent to the whole population of RE adopters in Sweden, an adopter perspective is taken in order to explore the adoption dynamics shaping large-scale diffusion of innovation. More specifically, the thesis identifies the drivers and challenges of adoption during large-scale diffusion and their impact on adoption decisions and strategies. The outcome of this work is presented in a compiling synthesis and six appended papers.

Findings show that adopters are heterogeneous with regard to their characteristics, as well as to the drivers, challenges and strategies that affect their adoption processes. Depending on their perceptions, some adopters are more influenced by drivers and challenges than others and, as a consequence, adopters base their adoption decisions on different motives and follow different strategies to implement the innovation.

Moreover, the results suggest that the dynamics that occur during the large-scale diffusion process does not only come from the actor level and the level of the system where the largescale diffusion takes place, but also from parallel systems, which are related to adopters and their contexts, including both the social networks and the industries they primarily belong. This makes adopters the central drivers of the innovation diffusion process and this distinguishes the dynamics of large-scale diffusion from the dynamics of innovation development and early diffusion, in which the innovation is the central component.

Based on the findings about the adoption dynamics shaping large-scale diffusion, the thesis raises the need to consider large-scale diffusion as part of a new system, different from the innovation system and that acknowledges the specificities of this process. A tentative model accounting for the central role of adopters and for the interactions between adopters, the diffusion system and parallel systems is introduced.

Finally, the implications of these findings for policy makers and managers are put forward. In particular, there is a need for policies acknowledging adopters’ heterogeneity as well as the new challenges of large-scale diffusion. Strategies developed by adopters can be a source of inspiration for policy-makers, who can for instance promote the use of intermediaries, of adopters’ task environment and networks, as well as the formation of coalitions among adopters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 51 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1777
Keyword [en]
Innovation, large-scale diffusion, adopters, actor, system, drivers, challenges, motives, strategies, policies, renewable electricity, technology, intermediaries
National Category
Business Administration Energy Engineering Energy Systems Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131029DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-131029ISBN: 9789176857328 (Print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-131029DiVA: diva2:958063
Public defence
2016-10-07, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-06 Created: 2016-09-06 Last updated: 2016-09-06Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Who invests in renewable electricity production?: Empirical evidence and suggestions for further research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who invests in renewable electricity production?: Empirical evidence and suggestions for further research
2013 (English)In: Energy Policy, ISSN 0301-4215, Vol. 56, 568-581 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transforming energy systems to fulfill the needs of a low-carbon economy requires large investments in renewable electricity production (RES-E). Recent literature underlines the need to take a closer look at the composition of the RES-E investor group in order to understand the motives and investment processes of different types of investors. However, existing energy policies generally consider RES-E investments made on a regional or national level, and target investors who evaluate their RES-E investments according to least-cost high-profit criteria. We present empirical evidence to show that RES-E investments are made by a heterogeneous group of investors, that a variety of investors exist and that their formation varies among the different types of renewable sources. This has direct implications for our understanding of the investment process in RES-E and for the study of motives and driving forces of RES-E investors. We introduce a multi-dimensional framework for analyzing differences between categories of investors, which not only considers to the standard economic dimension which is predominant in the contemporary energy literature, but also considers the entrepreneurship, innovation-adoption and institutional dimensions. The framework emphasizes the influence of four main investor-related factors on the investment process which should be studied in future research: motives, background, resources and personal characteristics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013
Keyword
Energy policy, Renewable electricity production, Tradable Green Certificate, Investor types, Investments, RES-E
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-89587 (URN)10.1016/j.enpol.2013.01.038 (DOI)000317158400054 ()
Projects
NYEL - Nya investerare i förnybar elproduktion
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Note

Highlights

► The RES-E investor group is heterogeneous. ► Investors with no traditional background within electricity production make the majority of RES-E investments in Sweden. ► Different types of RES-E investors invest in different renewables. ► A standard economic perspective is not sufficient to understand emerging RES-E investors. ► Motives, background, resources and personal characteristics of RES-E investors matter.

Available from: 2013-02-27 Created: 2013-02-27 Last updated: 2016-09-06Bibliographically approved
2. Investments in renewable electricity production: The importance of policy revisited
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Investments in renewable electricity production: The importance of policy revisited
2016 (English)In: Renewable energy, ISSN 0960-1481, E-ISSN 1879-0682, Vol. 88, 307-316 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Finding ways to encourage investments in renewable electricity production is crucial to reach a transition to a sustainable energy system. While in the energy policy literature, investments are usually explained by economic or regulatory policies, recent studies have suggested that some investors are boundedly rational and may respond differently to policies. In this paper, a framework is proposed to make a more complete analysis of the institutional demands influencing emerging investors in renewable electricity production. Based on 35 cases, both formal and informal demands were identified and their impact on emerging investors behavior was analyzed. Results show that besides formal institutional demands, emerging investors were influenced by their task environment and by various informal demands which originated in investors collective and internal contexts. However, different investors were affected by different institutional demands. They also responded in different ways to the same demands; while some perceived a specific demand as imposing, others regarded it as inducing. These findings provide a better understanding of the institutional forces affecting emerging investors in renewable electricity. The paper suggests new policies to handle the heterogeneity of investors and opens up for a new panorama of informal policy channels, where network effects can be utilized to trigger emerging investors decisions. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2016
Keyword
Renewable electricity production; Policies; Institutional demands; Investments; Heterogeneity; Sweden
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-125141 (URN)10.1016/j.renene.2015.11.045 (DOI)000368563900029 ()
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Energy Agencys AES programme [33685-1]

Available from: 2016-02-15 Created: 2016-02-15 Last updated: 2016-09-06
3. System- and actor-level challenges for diffusion of renewable electricity technologies: an international comparison
Open this publication in new window or tab >>System- and actor-level challenges for diffusion of renewable electricity technologies: an international comparison
2016 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 128, no SI, 105-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract It has become increasingly clear that a transition to low-carbon energy systems, including a widespread diffusion of renewable energy technologies (RETs), is necessary for the world to handle the challenges of climate change. Previous innovation system oriented research has identified barriers to development and early-stage diffusion of RETs, but more research is needed to understand what kind of institutional frameworks and governance tools are needed to achieve effective large-scale diffusion at a stage when technologies are commercially available and new demand-side actors become involved. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to identify the main challenges faced by adopters of renewable electricity technologies under different institutional frameworks as well as their strategies for overcoming them. Results based on a qualitative multiple case study of 28 adopters in France and in Sweden show that adopters were faced with system-level challenges, such as market-structure obstacles and lack of institutional routines, as well as actor-level challenges, such as lack of resources or behavioral characteristics. The study also highlights the difference between blocking and restraining challenges and proposes that barriers are better thought of as challenges that can be overcome. It shows the importance for policy makers to consider not only system-level diffusion challenges, but also to understand actor-level contexts, including the behaviors of adopters who contribute to the transition. A further understanding how new entrants have managed to overcome existing challenges may provide new policy tools to facilitate the adoption for new adopters, for instance by encouraging the use of networks or by supplying specific information to potential adopters who lack it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Diffusion, Challenges, Renewable energy technology, System-level, Actor-level, Policy
National Category
Environmental Management Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Environmental Biotechnology Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-128256 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.09.048 (DOI)000378568800009 ()
Note

Funding agencies.The funding support of the Swedish Energy Agency (Grant 33685-1 Project New investors in renewable electricity production) is gratefully acknowledged.

Available from: 2016-05-24 Created: 2016-05-24 Last updated: 2016-09-06Bibliographically approved
4. The impact of systemic factors on the deployment of cooperative projects within renewable electricity production - An international comparison
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The impact of systemic factors on the deployment of cooperative projects within renewable electricity production - An international comparison
2016 (English)In: Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, ISSN 1364-0321, Vol. 65, 478-488 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While cooperative organizations created with the aim to initiate, develop, and operate renewable electricity (RE) projects have received attention for their roles in the transition to a sustainable energy system, the disparities in the number of RE cooperative projects among countries suggest that institutional contexts may have an impact on their deployment. In order to systematically identify the systemic factors that impact their deployment, we use an established framework, considering the strengths and weaknesses in market structure, infrastructures, institutions, interactions, and capabilities. We compare the deployment context in Germany, France, and Sweden in order to understand which systemic factors have an impact and how they affect RE cooperative projects. Based on a review of the literature and qualitative interviews with experts in RE cooperatives, it appears that, although RE cooperative projects share some obstacles with most new entrants of RE, they are particularly exposed to a lack of financial insfrastructure, a lack of knowledge and interactions, and problems related to a lack of regulatory frameworks facilitating their deployment. Results also show that systemic factors are complementary and dependent on each other; lowering one barrier lowers other barriers, and some obstacles strengthen other obstacles. Drawing on the comparison among Germany, France, and Sweden, we highlight some interesting practices that could be used in the coordination and alignment of systemic conditions for the deployment of RE cooperative projects.

Keyword
Systemic obstacles; Renewable electricity; Energy transition; RE cooperatives; Energy policy; Europe
National Category
Environmental Management Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Business Administration Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131014 (URN)10.1016/j.rser.2016.07.026 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency, 40642-1
Available from: 2016-09-05 Created: 2016-09-05 Last updated: 2016-09-06Bibliographically approved
5. Intermediary-user collaboration during the innovation implementation process
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Intermediary-user collaboration during the innovation implementation process
2016 (English)In: Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, ISSN 0953-7325, E-ISSN 1465-3990Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

The innovation process is characterized by obstacles faced both by innovation suppliers during development and by users during implementation. Although the literature has underscored the importance of collaboration, how this process occurs during implementation remains understudied. In this study, a cross-case analysis of implementation processes showed that intermediary-user collaborations are characterized by different ways of matching users' demands with intermediaries' services, different formal and informal governance mechanisms, and different implementation outcomes. We propose that these characteristics are due to the specificities of implementation and to the particularities of the intermediary-user relationship. Additionally, there are particularities of the intermediary-user collaborations that both facilitate implementation and create risks for its outcomes. We suggest that the link between the implementation outcome and the collaboration process affects user satisfaction, further investments in the technology, and learning. We conclude by drawing implications of the particularities of intermediary-user collaboration and implementation for theory, managers and further research.

Keyword
Collaboration, intermediaries, users, implementation; innovation
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Economics and Business Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131016 (URN)10.1080/09537325.2016.1231299 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency, 40642-1
Available from: 2016-09-05 Created: 2016-09-05 Last updated: 2016-09-06
6. Motives to adopt renewable energy technologies: evidence from Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Motives to adopt renewable energy technologies: evidence from Sweden
2016 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The diffusion of renewable energy technologies (RETs) has to speed up for countries to reach their, often ambitious, targets for renewable energy generation. This requires a large number of actors to adopt RETs. Policies will most likely be needed to induce adoption, but there is limited knowledge about what motivates RET adoption. The purpose of this paper is to complement and expand the available evidence regarding motives to adopt RETs through a survey to over 600 non-traditional RET adopters in Sweden. The main finding of the study is that although environmental concerns, technology interest, access to a base resource and prospects to make money are important motives in general, RET adopters is a heterogeneous group with regard to motives: there are many different motives to adopt RETs, adopters differ in how large importance they attach to the same motive and each adopter can have several different motives to adopt. There are also differences in motives between RETs (especially wind power vs. solar power) and between adopter categories (especially IPPs vs. individuals and diversified companies). This implies that a variety of policy instruments might be needed to induce further adoption of a variety of RETs by a variety of adopter categories.

Keyword
Renewable energy, motive, adoption, diffusion, investment
National Category
Business Administration Energy Engineering Energy Systems Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-131034 (URN)
Available from: 2016-09-06 Created: 2016-09-06 Last updated: 2016-09-06Bibliographically approved

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