Municipalities as intermediaries for the design and local implementation of climate visions
Journal article, 2020

The transition to a sustainable society requires the development of visions paving the way for socio-technical changes. In recent years, the literature on sustainable transitions and urban planning has highlighted the intermediation role of municipalities to implement international and national goals and visions at a local level. Yet, empirical research studying municipalities from the lens of the intermediation theory are sparse. This paper aims at contributing to a better understanding of what strategies municipalities use when intermediating between and within different scales of governance (i.e. local, national and international), and what factors influence the choice of strategies. Through semi-structured interviews and document studies, three Swedish municipalities are studied. Results show that these municipalities translate the visions through local experiments, task delegation and coalitions. Additionally, the analysis indicates that the local circumstances, rather than the relations between the local level and the higher levels of governance or the guidance of national policies, influence the choice of intermediation strategy. Particularly, whether the management approach is centralized or decentralized, result- or process-oriented, participative or exclusive, is determinant. Results also indicate that municipalities perform both top-down and bottom-up intermediation, i.e. closing the loop from the local to the national and/or international levels.

sustainable society

intermediation strategies

climate visions

management approach



Sara Gustafsson

Linköping University

Ingrid Johansson Mignon

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

European Planning Studies

0965-4313 (ISSN) 1469-5944 (eISSN)

Vol. 28 6 1161-1182

The roles of intermediaries in the transition to a sustainable energy system

Swedish Energy Agency (40642-1), 2015-08-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Public Administration Studies

Human Geography



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