Friday, 2 July 2010

Protective space dynamics in developing Asia

Yesterday I participated in the annual research day of the Eindhoven Centre for Innovation Studies (ECIS). I presented a second proposal that was recently granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and is about the role of sustainability experiments in rapidly developing Asian countries such as India and Thailand.

Interestingly one of the responses I got was that in current transition theories there is limited attention for the role of donors or financially supportive individuals in experiments. They are indeed critically important, both in positive ways (making experiments feasible), as well as in more negative ways when experiments become too much dependent on external protective measures. Indeed a growing number of initiators explicitly stay away from external financial support and aim for strong local business models (one Indian example is here:

What does it mean for a theory on protective space dynamics in niche building? For one thing, protective space dynamics matter and are under researched. It also exemplifies that protective measures are never straightforward and can enable but also constrain experimentation. Indeed, a challenging thought is that in certain contexts public protective measures are perceived as limiting entrepreneurship, and that a straightforward market-based approach is more desirable.

Luckily I could reply that we have another interesting project where exactly these kind of questions are central to the research.