Experimenting for sustainability transitions: a systematic literature review

Frans Sengers, Anna J. Wieczorek, Rob Raven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


This review paper systematically queries the Sustainability Transitions literature to unpack the concept of 'experimentation'. We define an experiment as an inclusive, practice-based and challenge-led initiative, which is designed to promote system innovation through social learning under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity. A distinction is made between various terms (niche experiments, bounded socio-technical experiments, transition experiments, sustainability experiments and grassroots experiments), each with their own theoretical backgrounds and discursive and empirical focal points. Observed patterns and trends in the literature are discussed, as well as promising lines of enquiry for further exploration of- and a reflection on experimenting for sustainability transitions in the context of the welfare state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Experiments
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Systematic literature review

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