Navigating implementation dilemmas in technology-forcing policies: A comparative analysis of accelerated smart meter diffusion in the Netherlands, UK, Norway, and Portugal (2000-2019)

Frank Geels, Siddharth Sareen, Andrew Hook, Benjamin Sovacool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper addresses the implementation of technology-forcing policies in open-ended diffusion processes that involve companies and regulators as well as consumers and civil society actors. Mobilising insights from the societal embedding of technology framework and policy steering theories, we investigate two implementation dilemmas that relate to an overarching tension between flexibility (to enable technological learning and stakeholder engagement) and coordinated push (to focus actors and drive deployment): a) early or late formulation of initial targets, and b) technocratic or emergent-adaptive implementation styles. We investigate these dilemmas with four comparative case studies of smart electricity meters between 2000 to 2019, which diffused rapidly in the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal, but decelerated in the UK. We relate these differences to policy choices, and identify two patterns for successful implementation of technology-forcing policies: a) start with early targets and a technocratic style, but make adjustments if there are substantial protests or technical problems, and b) start with an emergent-adaptive style and formulate and enforce targets later, once technical and social stabilisation has occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104272
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalResearch Policy
Volume50
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • technology-forcing policy
  • implementation dilemmas
  • smart meters
  • accelerated diffusion

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