Changing Institutional Landscapes (UvA Dissertations) by Breukers, Sylvia

By Breukers, Sylvia

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The socio-technical systems approach as discussed above emphasises the dynamic relation between actors and institutions, the interdependence among actors within and between networks necessitating cooperation, and the importance of learning processes in order to reach innovation (Geels, 2004). The definition of institutions is broad, covering formal and informal rules that constrain and enable behaviour and regulate interactions (including values, norms, 47 expectations etc). This approach is not just relevant when studying technology diffusion, but also when addressing the policy and decisionmaking processes aimed at implementation of wind power.

This understanding is based on several assumptions, as Wolsink pointed out. 41 For instance, it entails the idea that wind projects represent a common good interest, and therefore stand above local interests. However, not everyone agrees with the perception of wind power as a common good; in fact, it depends on who defines what the common good is. Another assumption behind the nimby-argument is that everyone is agreed on the usefulness of wind power. This assumption is not valid, since there are in fact people who argue against the usefulness of wind power technology to generate electricity.

In the eighties and nineties, countries with corporatist traditions like Germany and the Netherlands adopted neo-liberal measures, attempting to curb government intervention, to abolish welfare state arrangements, as well as to promote deregulation and liberalise public utilities - including the energy sector. These states have attempted to find a new balance between cooperation and competition. Where corporatism used to involve tripartite negotiation between the state, labour and employers, neo-corporatism means that different forms of negotiation have arisen, resulting from the recognition of a wider array of ‘stakeholders’ at several levels of government (Jessop, 2002).

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