Search GSSD

Sustainability transition dynamics: Towards overcoming policy resistance

Sustainability transitions receive major scholarly attention, often explicitly with the intention to develop policy recommendations aimed towards progressing such transitions. Despite these efforts, many implemented transition policies have not been able to meet expectations. This tendency of systems to defeat the policies that have been designed to improve them is known as ‘policy resistance’. This paper addresses the question how we can explain the persistence of policy resistance in the context of sustainability transitions, and aims to bring us a step further in the direction of identifying policies that support overcoming policy resistance. System dynamics is an approach that explicitly addresses policy resistance and we investigate how this approach complements existing transition approaches. As an illustration, we apply the approach to the case of the Dutch energy transition, with the participation of 96 experts. We conclude that system dynamics complements the dominant multi-level perspective and the transition management approach by providing a middle ground between emphasizing agency or structure. Moreover, the approach helps overcoming policy resistance by mapping out the structure of the system responsible for policy resistance, thereby enabling the identification of high leverage points that support sustainability transitions.
Vincent de Gooyert
Radboud University
Industry Focus: 
Bibliographies & Reports