Svein Gunnar Kjøde
Sustainability Lab, University of Oslo
A case study of cross-sectoral innovation for sustainability
The systemic nature of sustainability challenges from construction activity necessitates a fundamental rethinking of their operations. However, current value chains for such industries and sectors are deeply entrenched in existing business logic through vested interests and path-dependent regimes. In this sense, actors are locked into business paradigms that are resilient to change.
In response, innovation practitioners seek to address such systemic complexity by exploring opportunities within designerly approaches (i.e. design thinking and systemic design) in the planning and facilitation of systemic innovation, with the ambition of transitioning entire industries to more sustainable futures. Knowledge of the applicability and effect of such approaches is still nascent, and studies of underlying theories are lacking in the literature, suggesting a practice-theory gap in this respect.
ByggFloken, a prominent systemic innovation initiative in the Norwegian construction industry, was studied as a case of a cross-sectoral, multi-actor project supporting the transition towards more sustainable business models.
A multi-level perspective was used to evaluate the project’s potential for sociotechnical change or, more specifically, sustainability transitions.
The subsequent investigation into the methodology informing the innovation project identified challenges in applying dominant innovation methods and tools in such systemic contexts. In conclusion, the study proposes generalizable considerations in the planning and framing of multi-actor systemic innovation projects.
Keywords: systemic innovation, transitioning, sociotechnical systems, systemic design