How to Explain Major Policy Change Towards Sustainability? Bringing Together the Multiple Streams Framework and the Multilevel Perspective on Socio-Technical Transitions to Explore the German “Energiewende”

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Most efforts at explaining major policy transformation apply a single lens to study specific cases. Recent contributions have called for a more plural use of theories to facilitate the production of valuable new perspectives and research agendas. The German energy transition is a good example of such a transformative change. This article takes up the call for cross-fertilization of theories, using two complementary lenses to explain the German energy transition: (i) applying the multiple streams framework (MSF) demonstrates how political factors and public opinion have opened a “policy window” for reform from a political dimension. (ii) The multilevel perspective on sustainability transitions (MLP) sheds more light on the importance technological innovation for transformation processes. Exemplified through the German energy transition, we highlight limitations of both lenses, as well as the value of using multiple lenses to analyze specific cases of major policy change. The MSF highlights the role of agency and power relations. The MLP demonstrates how niche-technologies uproot the incumbent regime. Employing both lenses together offers insights as to how major policy change goes beyond single instances of decision-making but is the product of a larger trajectory of path-dependence that emerges from the interplay of socio-technical and political dynamics.
ZeitschriftPolicy Studies Journal
Seiten (von - bis)671-699
Anzahl der Seiten29
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.08.2022

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