Department of Organization

Research, Innovation and Organization (RIO) Group




CAPACITOR: Public Actors' Capacities in the Governance of Green Transitions

Funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)


Project period: 2021 - 2024

Project focus:
CAPACITOR is a research project funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (2021-2024), and carried out by researchers at various departments at Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), and Fraunhofer ISI (Germany).

CAPACITOR studies the capacities of public actors in the governance of green transitions. 

New technologies can help mitigating climate change, but only when they are fully deployed and integrated into socio-technical systems. This is generally called “green transitions”. Green transitions are complex: they involve many and diverse stakeholders, require creating market and institutional contexts for public and private investments, need adapting standards and safety regulations, etc. 

Public actors are key players in green transitions - especially municipalities, national agencies, and publicly controlled utilities. In many cases, they take the lead in the governance of green transitions by the coordination of different actors. For example, the municipality of Ærø was decisive for the deployment of the battery-driven electric ferry ‘Ellen’. 

Given the centrality of public actors in green transitions, we cannot take for granted their organizational capacities. Therefore it is key to understand the various types of organizational capacities they have (or not), and how they use them in governance processes. This will allow identifying and building missing capacities in public actors, helping achieve Denmark’s goals.

The CAPACITOR project asks two main Research Questions: 

• RQ1: How are public actors developing and using their organizational capacities in the complex governance processes of green transitions? And 

• RQ2: What specific combinations of public actors’ capacities are required for achieving green transitions? 

CAPACITOR has three aims: 

• First, to develop a novel conceptual approach about public actors’ capacities at the core of the cutting-edge research agenda about sustainable transitions.

• Second, to analyze a uniquely broad empirical study of 24 in-depth cases in renewable energy and maritime transport sectors - two crucial sectors for Denmark’s ambitious emission reduction commitments, and which will allow identifying potential deficiencies in current capacities.

• Third, to build a strong research team in Denmark, developing excellent next-generation researchers and international links, collaborating closely with a strong German research organization. 

CAPACITOR will realize this potential by engaging directly with public actors in Denmark and elsewhere in a co-creation approach, seeking to create ongoing impact via the interaction between researchers and stakeholders during the life of the project.

Members of the project:
Professor Susana Borrás, CBS (PI and project responsible)
Associate Professor Stine Haakonsson, CBS
Associate Professor Trine Pallesen, CBS
Associate Professor René Taudal Poulsen, CBS

Assistant Professor Christian Hendriksen, CBS

Professor Jakob Edler, Faunhofer ISI (Germany)

Collaborating with: 
Danish Maritime Authority
Bornholms Energi og Forsyning
Energibyen Skive

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) 

International Advisory Board: 
Professor Rainer Kattel, University College London, UK
Professor Dr. Marko Hekkert, Utrecht University, NL
Professor Karoline Rogge, Sussex University, UK
Professor Taran Mari Thune, University of Oslo, N
Professor Dr. Matthias K. Weber, Austrian Institute of Technology, A; and LISIS, Université Gustave Eiffel, F. 

Governing Green Finance in China
The project looks into the governance of green finance in China. It addresses the political, economic, and financial dynamics of governing green finance in China, from policies to effects, from domestic to overseas, and from theory to practice. The issue is addressed with an interdisciplinary approach by drawing from the fields of political economy, Chinese politics, and organization studies. Key research angles include: 1) How China’s green finance governance approach differs from other countries and what the impact of the approach is on policy issuance and financial institutions. 2) How and to what extent Chinese green finance policy, since its roll-out in 2016, has changed the behavior of Chinese financial institutions. 3) How China’s green finance policies affect Chinese financial institutions activities overseas.
Lead: Mathias Lund Larsen
PhD Supervisor: Duncan Wigan and Stine Haakonsson
Duration: 3 years, December 2020-December 2023
Funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)

Project period: 2021 - 2024
Project focus: CO-GRENN is a research project funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (2021 - 2024), and carried out by researchers at two departments at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Wind Energyand DTU Management Engineering). 
CO-GREEN studies socio-technical controversies over wind turbine noise in the transition to renewable energy. 

This project aims to further our understanding of how controversies over green transitions are exacerbated by a technical framing of the green transition and its solutions. Such disengagement of the green transition from politics through “technification” paradoxically leads to politicization and controversy. To examine this, we focus on wind power development, in particular how the matter of wind turbine sound becomes constituted as contestable ‘noise’. Informed by Science & Technology Studies, we explore the various existing forms of knowledge about wind turbine sound. Based on this, we examine how wind turbine sound becomes politicized in specific wind farm projects. This informs our experimentation with co-creation workshops, to explore how different forms of knowledge of sound can reach consensus. The project contributes to the field of Science Communication by coupling it with transition and social acceptance studies, and to controversy studies by combining it with co-creation theory
The research findings of this project will have the potential to provide practitioners in the green transition with new ways to approach wind turbine sound and sociotechnical controversies over the green transition more broadly. This we will contribute to by 1) a policy note to regulators (e.g. Danish Energy Agency) with advice on how to better facilitate the inclusion of more diverse forms of knowledge in the formulation and design of policies, regulations, and standards. We will also 2) build the foundation for later development of guidelines for wind farm developers, municipal planners, acoustic noise scientists, and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultants in terms of how to accommodate co-creation processes during the wind farm planning process. Last, based on the experimentation with co-creation formats, the 3) project lays the foundation for a more application-oriented funding application to Innovation Fund Denmark.
In the project we will collaborate with a broad range of academics and practitioners with whom we will consult to ensure our research design is robust and with whom we can ‘reality-check’ our research findings.
Members of the project:
Researcher Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, DTU Wind Energy, affiliated to CBS (PI and project responsible)
Researcher, Sophie Nyborg, DTU Wind Energy
Senior Consultant, Tom Cronin, DTU Wind Energy
Professor, Maja Horst, DTU Management Engineering
PhD Student, NN
The following people have accepted to join a reference group for the project: 
- Professor Tomas Moe Skjølsvold, NTNU; 
- Søren Bech, Professor/AAU; 
- Jukka Pertola, former CEO Siemens Danmark; 
- Jørgen Rosted, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Business and development, director in FORA; 
- Sabine von Hünerbein, University of Salford, UK; 
- Lars Sommer Søndergaard, FORCE Technology; 
- Jens Pouplier, Orbicon consultant; 
- Tove Merete Wolff, Planner, Varde Kommune. 
Apart from this, we will share our findings during research stays at NTNU KULT (Norway) and University of Lisbon (Portugal) and Wageningen University (Netherlands). 

Isomorphic Difference: Familiarity and distinctiveness in
national science and innovation policies

The project investigates similarities and differences in national science and innovation policies in USA, China and Denmark. It does so by comparing innovation objectives and models, policy instruments and incentives, selectivity and "hot topics", and evaluation and impact assessments tools across the the countries. In order to test the way policies are translated into concrete activities, the project also investigates selected case studies and compares these. Theoretically, the project combines STS and institutional theory and seeks to conceptualize how innovation ideas emerge, travel, intersect and organize, and what the societal consequences are of such processes.
The project comprises four work packages, including 1 PhD and 1 Postdoc project.

Participants: Alan Irwin (PI), Signe Vikkelsø, Jane Bjørn Vedel, Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, Xiaobai Shen, Aixa Y. Alemán-Díaz, Xuan Li
Duration: August 2018 - January 2022

Isomorphic difference in China: a case of Chinese innovation policymaking 
As a China scholar and sociologist of innovation and science, I use a lens of Science & Technology Studies (STS) to shed light on isomorphic differences and potential socio-technical controversies over Chinese S&T and innovation policymaking. In particular, I am interested in exploring different modes of valuing 'good' and 'high quality' scientific practices (e.g. in terms of inter-disciplinarity, collaborative science, IPRs). In the project, I aim to trace isomorphic processes in innovation policymaking through a focus on China's Medium- to Long-Term plan for Science & Technology (MLP). I will here conduct ethnographic fieldwork with scientists and experts in China related to formulating the previous (2006-2020) and upcoming MLP (2021-2035). By focusing on the shift of discourses (e.g. of indigenous innovation), policy tools, and scientific policy areas and how these changes are linked to inspiration from outside of China, I will be able to detect processes of isomorphism and isomorphic difference. To get further insight into potential differences in policy implementation (reflecting isomorphic difference), I will conduct an ethnographic case study on the Chinese science city, Huairou Science City. Here, I will particularly explore how a Chinese synchrotron has been planned and established, and how Sino-foreign collaborations play out around this.

Participants: Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, Xuan Li and Xiaobai Shen

Advice in science policymaking: technoscientific knowledge(s) in nanotechnology
and research & innovation policy in the United States (US)

The project is about the configuration of advice in science and innovation policymaking and the limitations this places on the possibilities of the science and technology it aims to shape. In particular, it illuminates the interorganizational groups tasked with advising on nanotechnology policy in the US. The project is organized around three research questions. The first question analyses how interorganizational groups mandated to evaluate and manage the US  National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) shape policy for nanotechnology in the US. The second question evaluates the ways in which science and innovation (S&I) policy in the US interacts with nanotechnology policy. The last question considers what this suggests about US S&I policy in an ‘isomorphic difference’ perspective. This project will reveal the contested ways in which sociotechnical futures in nanotechnology are strategically deployed and turn a gaze towards the knowledge(s) that produce them. The project represents a research strand to the Isomorphic difference: Familiarity and distinctiveness in national science and innovation policies project.
Lead: Aixa Y. Alemán-Díaz
PhD Supervisors: Alan Irwin and Signe Vikkelsø
Duration: 3 years, June 2019 – June 2022

Management and Organization of Innovation Partnerships 
The project focuses on the organizational characteristics and challenges of innovation partnerships and their managerial implications. It does so in two steps: a) a broad comparison of selected partnerships funded by Innovation Fund Denmark; b) a case study of one of these partnerships, the "Enzyme Opti Partnership". Theoretically, the project draws on organization theory and seeks to contribute to the field of innovation studies, by "opening the black box" of innovation partnerships and discussing their role and relevance in national innovation policies.

Participants: Signe Vikkelsø, Julie Sommerlund (UCPH), Mikkel Stokholm Skaarup
Duration: 2017-2020

Public-Private Innovation Partnerships: Value Creation in Smart Cities 
This project focuses on how Public-Private Innovation Partnership experiment, scale and create value the public. This project looks specifically at the Smart City sector and how municipalities partner with technology companies and other stakeholders to develop solutions that can assist cities in the myriad of challenges rising from rapid urbanisation, global warming and ensuring sustainable economic development. The project is an Industrial PhD, hosted by Copenhagen Solutions Lab, the City of Copenhagen’s Smart City governance unit. The PhD is part of the Innovation Fund’s call for Public Industrial PhD focusing on innovation in public organizations, furthermore it is partially funded by Realdania.

Lasse Bundgaard; PhD Supervisor: Susana Borras (Department of Organization)
Duration: 17/3/2017-17/9/2020

Studies of Policy Instruments and Policy Mixes for Innovation with Quantitative Text Analysis 
Demands for an active role of the state in making economic development more sustainable are becoming prevalent in academic debates. In this context, innovation policy is a key area of state activity since fostering sustainability requires renewing production and consumption systems. For my PhD, I analyze innovation policy by focusing on policy instruments as techniques governments use to achieve policy goals. I devote particular attention to the instruments fostering sustainability. My project consists of a mapping of innovation policy instruments; an analysis of the difference between traditional growth-oriented instruments and new sustainability-oriented ones; and a study of factors facilitating the diffusion of these new instruments. It uses a dataset containing information on 10.000+ recent instruments from more than 50 countries. My project contributes to the state of research in three ways: First, it introduces a new approach to the comparative study of instruments drawing on methods for quantitative text analysis and machine learning. These methods allow analyzing higher instrument numbers than before and provide new ways for recognizing patterns in the data. Second, my project’s research results will give new insights into the features of instruments for sustainability by testing assumptions from the existing body of literature, such as that these instruments involve more societal stakeholders than others. Third, my project contributes to the theory of policy diffusion, considering how membership in international organizations, structural equivalence and other factors affect which instruments states adopt.

Lead: David Howoldt
PhD Supervisors: Susana Borrás (Department of Organization), Christoph Grimpe (Department of Strategy and Innovation)
Duration: 09/2017 - 03/2021

Economic competitiveness and/or Science in Society:
The role of publicly funded research in the private sector

This project explores the diverse justifications and argumentations regarding the value of publicly funded research in the private sector. The main research question is: How does the private sector define the role(s) of publicly funded research? Rather than drawing solely on a model of economic competitiveness, the project takes its point of departure in a Science in Society framework and considers the role of public research in a broader societal perspective. The research question is addressed through 50+ qualitative semi-structured interviews with industrial managers in research-based companies. The research is supported by a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation.

Lead: Jane Bjørn Vedel
Duration: 2015-2017 (extended)

The socioeconomic importance of research-based education -
The role of long-term grants in public research institutions

This project examines the role of long-term grants in public research institutions. Drawing on organization theory, it investigates how long-term grants change organizational, epistemic and educational practices in universities and considers the wider socio-economic importance hereof. The research is based on 70+ qualitative semi-structured interviews with grant holders. The project is part of a larger research project titled “The socioeconomic importance of research-based education” that examines: What are the societal effects of university-based education in a complex R&D innovation ecosystem, and how might educational policy be improved so as to maximize these effects efficiently? The project is supported by a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Participants: Jane Bjørn Vedel, Anders Sørensen (principal investigator), Fane Groes and Moira Daily
Duration: 2017-2020


The page was last edited by: Department of Organization // 03/04/2021