Cross-National Complementarity of Technology Push, Demand Pull, and Manufacturing Push Policies: The Case of Photovoltaics

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Researchers have debated the relative importance of technology push and demand pull policies in the adoption of environmental technologies. Here, we examine how internationally distributed technology push and demand pull policies interact to support the diffusion of a renewable energy technology. We analyze 40 years (1974-2013) of solar photovoltaic policies in three countries: USA, Germany, and China. We identify four phases of international policy interactions: in Phase 1 (1974-1990), the USA launched technology push policies; in Phase 2 (1991-2003), Germany pioneered demand pull policies; in Phase 3 (2004-2008), China responded to international market incentive programs with a scaling up of manufacturing; and in Phase 4 (2008-2013), Germany reduced whereas China increased demand policies. Our contributions are threefold: First, we demonstrate the importance of 'manufacturing push' alongside the standard technology push and demand pull factors; second, we show how global adoption was spurred by the complementarity of policy efforts across national boundaries, while considering the tradeoffs in climate change policy between increasing global environmental welfare and improving national economic development; third, we demonstrate three generic patterns of cross-national policy complementarity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8424882
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)381-397
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 08.2019

    Research areas

  • Demand pull and technology push, energy policy, energy transition, environmental innovation, Government, Industries, Investment, Manufacturing, Photovoltaic systems, policy instruments, renewable energy, solar photovoltaic, sustainability, Technological innovation, technology diffusion
  • Energy research
  • Management studies