Local initiatives and global regimes - Multi-scalar transition dynamics in the chemical industry

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The breaking with regime logics is one of the key leverage points to enable a socio-technical transition. Understanding how, and under what conditions, this may happen is thus an important task for transition studies. Recent research on socio-technical regimes has shown that they may be less geographically bound than previously assumed. Regimes may instead be replicated and reinforced globally through networks of multi-national companies (MNCs), international interest organizations, and other actor groups. This paper studies the dynamics of such multi-scalar transitions by focusing on the interrelation of local sustainability initiatives and global regimes. Using the case of the chemical industry, we illustrate how sustainability initiatives taken by a few subsidiaries of global corporations in Sweden are closely intertwined with the global regime and vice versa. We show that global regimes are locally embedded as well as globally institutionalized and that sustainability initiatives must therefore challenge both, highly institutionalized local as well as global socio-technical configurations at once. Four main multi-scalar transition dynamics are identified; institutional contradictions, internal competition, inadequate networks, and inconsistent aims and expectations. Each of these dimensions contributes to shaping pathways for local transitions in industries that are dependent on developments outside their immediate boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-183
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology


  • socio-technical regime
  • sustainability transitions
  • geography of transitions
  • industrial change
  • chemical industry


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