A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Agency in regime destabilization through the selection environment: The Finnish food system’s sustainability transition

Publication Details
Authors: Kuokkanen Anna, Nurmi Armi, Mikkilä Mirja, Kuisma Miia, Kahiluoto Helena, Linnanen Lassi
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2018
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Research Policy
Volume number: 47
Issue number: 8
Start page: 1513
End page: 1522
Number of pages: 10
ISSN: 0048-7333
JUFO-Level of this publication: 3
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication


The growing urgency of environmental threats combined with the slow pace
of sustainability transitions has turned attention towards a better
understanding of regime destabilization. Focusing excessively on niche
innovations could be incumbent regimes’ diversion and resistance
strategy and could reinforce the ‘business as usual’ mindset instead of
contributing to system-wide changes. Historical cases of system
transition have most often been used to understand the dynamics of
regime destabilization. However, these insights have limitations when
the focus is on ongoing transitions. Moreover, it is argued that more
attention should be paid to agency and actors. Herein, regime
destabilization is understood through an internally structured selection
environment, implying that agency is assumed not only in variation at
the niche level but also in the selection processes: (1) the selection
environment is shaped by active and strategic actors and actor networks;
(2) the selection environment is shaped by diverse discursive framings;
and (3) the selection environment is shaped by various actors beyond
the regime and even beyond the system in question. The argument is
empirically tested in the case of the Finnish food system by
constructing prevailing storylines in the sustainability transition.
Four contrasting but partially overlapping storylines and their
associated actor networks are identified. The empirical case supports
the view that actors across all levels aim to influence the selection
environment’s formulation with their framing of the problem and the
strategic response. Thus, more attention must be paid to the content and
diversity of different discursive framings in sustainability

Last updated on 2019-13-03 at 12:00