What Influences the Diffusion of Grassroots Innovations for Sustainability? Investigating Community Currency Niches

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Community action for sustainability is a promising site of socio-technical innovation. Here we test the applicability of co-evolutionary niche theories of innovation diffusion (Strategic Niche Management, SNM) to the context of ‘grassroots innovations’. We present new empirical findings from an international study of 12 community currency niches (such as LETS, time banks, local currencies). These are parallel systems of exchange, designed to operate alongside mainstream money, meeting additional sustainability needs. Our findings confirm SNM predictions that niche-level activity correlates with diffusion success, but we highlight additional or confounding factors, and how niche theories might be adapted to better fit civil-society innovations. In so doing, we develop a model of grassroots innovation niche diffusion which builds on existing work and tailors it to this specific context. The paper concludes with a series of theoretically-informed recommendations for practitioners and policymakers to support the development and potential of grassroots innovations.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalTechnology Analysis and Strategic Management
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


    Research areas

  • sustainability transitions, , social innovation, Strategic niche management, complementary currencies, grassroots innovation

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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

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