Learning for Sustainability Transition Through Bounded Socio-Technical Experiments in Personal Mobility
A bounded socio-technical experiment (BSTE) attempts to introduce a new technology, service, or a social arrangement on a small scale. Many such experiments in personal mobility are ongoing worldwide. They are carried out by coalitions of diverse actors, and are driven by long term and large scale visions of advancing society's sustainability agenda. This paper focuses on the processes of higher-order learning that occur through BSTEs. Based on the conceptual frameworks from theories of organizational learning, policy-oriented learning, and diffusion of innovation, we identify two types of learning: the first type occurs among the participants in the experiment and their immediate professional networks: the second type occurs in the society at large. Both types play a key role in the societal transition towards sustainable mobility systems. Two case studies, in which the Design for Sustainability Group at Technical University of Delft has participated, provide empirical data for the analysis. One case consists of development of a three-wheeled bike-plus vehicle (Mitka); the second case seeks to solve mobility problems on the Dutch island of Texel. We find that higher order learning of the first type occurs among the BSTE participants and beyond. Learning can be facilitated by deployment of structured visioning exercises, by diffusion of ideas among related BSTEs, by innovative couplings of problems and solutions, and by creating links among related experiments. Government agencies, universities and other intellectual entrepreneurs have key roles to play in making that happen. The cases provide much less insights about the second type of learning. Research on the latter is necessary.
Technology Analysis and Strategic Management
Brown, Halina Szejnwald; Vergragt, Philip; Green, Ken; and Berchicci, Luca, "Learning for Sustainability Transition Through Bounded Socio-Technical Experiments in Personal Mobility" (2003). Sustainability and Social Justice. 422.