Directionality challenges for transformative innovation policy: lessons from implementing climate goals in the process industry
Journal article, 2023

In the new paradigm of ‘transformative’ or ‘mission-oriented’ innovation policy, which addresses broad societal challenges, policy makers are given a large responsibility for setting or shaping the direction of socio-technical transitions. However, the literature has so far not provided much concrete advice on how to achieve directionality in practice. The main argument of this conceptual article is that a more detailed approach is needed to better understand the challenges policy makers might face when they attempt to translate societal goals into more concrete and actionable policy agendas. It identifies and discusses eight analytically derived directionality challenges: handling goal conflicts, defining system boundaries, identifying realistic pathways, formulating strategies, realising destabilisation, mobilising relevant policy domains, identifying target groups, and accessing intervention points. To illustrate these challenges, the article uses examples from the implementation of the Swedish climate goal in the process industry.

green transition

process industry


sustainability transitions

Transformative change


Anna Bergek

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics

Hans Hellsmark

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Kersti Karltorp

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Jönköping International Business School

Industry and Innovation

1366-2716 (ISSN) 1469-8390 (eISSN)

Vol. 30 8 1110-1139

System innovation for societal challenges: A strategic knowledge platform

VINNOVA (2017-01600), 2018-01-01 -- 2022-12-31.

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary



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