Complementing the multi-level perspective with the coevolutionary framework to conceptualise barriers to sustainable transitions in agro-food industries
Abstract: Sustainable transitions are essential to ensure climate and land systems do not go beyond their tipping points; however, these transitions are complex, and barriers to their success are difficult to conceptualise. The Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) is the dominant framework for conceptualising how industries transition to using green innovations. Despite the effectiveness of the MLP, it has weaknesses, particularly when applied to agro-food industries, which render it unable to always uncover the barriers to green innovations. Scholars argue that the MLP can combine with frameworks from other disciplines to address its weaknesses, such as the coevolutionary framework (CF). This thesis explores the potential of combining the MLP with other frameworks, by applying it in tandem with the CF to plant-based milk (PBM) innovations in the UK. The research approach was abductive with constant reference between literature, and qualitative data collected via interviews with PBM brands and a survey of UK consumers. The main findings of this thesis were that the MLP failed to explicitly link the dairy regime to the ecosystems that it impacts, struggled to grasp the depth of user-practice embeddedness, and failed to fully conceptualise a loss-leader pricing strategy. However, the CF was able to make these linkages and conceptualisations, revealing barriers to PBM. These findings indicate that the CF has significant potential to complement the MLP in conceptualising agro-food industries and that combining interdisciplinary frameworks with the MLP could benefit policymakers seeking to facilitate sustainable transitions.
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