Frank Geels - Biography#

Geels (44 years) is one of the world-leading scholars on socio-technical transitions, which refer to large-scale, long-term changes in (energy, food and transport) systems. From a sociological perspective, Geels aims to understand how transition processes arise from interactions between firms, consumers, policymakers, researchers, wider publics and social movements. He has co-developed the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP), which combines ideas from sociology of technology, evolutionary economics, and neo-institutional theory. The MLP suggests that transitions come about through processes within and between three analytical levels: 1) niches (the locus of radical innovations), 2) socio-technical regimes (the rules and practices stabilising existing systems), 3) an exogenous 'landscape' (which accommodates secular developments and 'longue duree'). Geels has illustrated and elaborated this inter-disciplinary framework with a dozen historical case studies, and has applied it to ongoing sustainability transitions in the areas of transport, energy and agro-food.

Since his PhD (2002), Geels has published six books, 44 peer-reviewed articles, and 20 book chapters, some of which are highly cited, leading him to be included in Thomson Reuters ‘Highly Cited Researchers’ list. His work has been influential in placing sustainability transitions as a new topic on the agenda of innovation studies.

Geels has advised stakeholders and policymakers (OECD, European Commission, WWF, DECC, VINNOVA) on sustainability transitions, a topic that is attracting increasing attention in the context of climate change and grand societal challenges.

He has won research grants in excess of £11.5 million (including an ERC grant and an ESRC centre grant), given 16 keynote lectures at international conferences, and won various prizes and awards. He is currently: 1) Chairman of the international Sustainability Transitions Research Network, which supports knowledge exchange in a new academic community, 2) Research Director of the Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), 3) Theme leader of research platform ‘System transitions and societal challenges’ at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. He is on the editorial board of four journals and regularly reviews for research councils and journals.
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