Spatial contexts and firm strategies: Applying the multilevel perspective to sustainable urban mobility transitions in Brazil

  • Marx R
  • De Mello A
  • Zilbovicius M
 et al. 
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The Multilevel Perspective on Sustainable Transitions (MLP) has been widely used to explain different patterns of technological, societal, cultural and normative transitions in an integrated and systemic way. This framework has been used to analyze individual transportation based on internal combustion engine automobiles and to develop niches that can challenge the existing dominant regimes in favor of more sustainable urban mobility systems. In a recent and relevant work, Markard et al. (2012) thoroughly discussed MLP, highlighting gaps and research opportunities. One such gap is that much of the research developed using this framework was conducted primarily using European scenarios, omitting various aspects of regional or country diversity, or the role of firm strategies failed to be considered. Therefore, we propose to analyze and compare Brazilian and German case studies regarding sustainable urban mobility transitions. To accomplish this goal, we analyze the diffusion level and different characteristics that explain the current development level of four niches: electro mobility, car sharing schemes, intermodal transportation, and innovation in public transportation. Using the multiple case study method, we compare the sustainable mobility initiatives and innovations undertaken by two German automotive companies in Brazil and in Germany. The results of the research conducted with both companies show that mobility initiatives in Brazil remain very limited. Manufacturers remain much more concerned with selling traditional products (in a much faster growth market than in Germany) than with initiating more aggressive strategies oriented to mobility. Even in their mother countries, mobility innovations can be considered moderate. Our main conclusions are that mobility initiatives in Germany and in Brazil are very different for a number of reasons, such as different pre-existing infrastructures to support new mobility initiatives, public pressure for mobility solutions, different growth patterns concerning car sales and different institutional and legal conditions regarding public and private participation in mobility issues. Therefore, the MLP framework would generate different trajectories and outcomes; in addition, firm strategies should be considered in the framework, particularly in a sector such as the automotive industry, in which firms have considerable influence.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Automotive industry
  • Multilevel perspective
  • Sustainable urban mobility

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