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Innovating Urban Governance for Sustainable Energy Transitions Between Institutional Design and Institutional Adaptation

While recent years have seen sustainable transition (ST) scholarship intensely explore field-level analyses of multi-actor governance initiatives, the internal organizational processes have received relatively less attention. This article contributes to theoretical advances on governance and innovation in ST by proposing and developing an overarching theoretical framework of institutional change that meaningfully connects field- and organization-level analyses of ST processes.

Based on a multiple method qualitative study of six city administrations, we develop four propositions that illuminate internal organizational processes involved in the institutionalization of novel ST governance arrangements. These processes involve crucial components that trigger institutional adaptation and institutional design mechanisms. Adaptation operates though professional, city, and regional networks as well as through sources of ST financing. Design involves institutional entrepreneurs working in city administrations from the bottom up and leaders in city administration and politics who innovate with ST governance internally, building organizational infrastructures that support and operationalize energy transition agendas.

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