Low-carbon sustainable transitions in the motorsport industry
: the case of FIA Formula E

  • Cristiana Pace

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research explores low-carbon sustainable socio-technical transitions. It does so through application of the Multi-level Perspective (MLP) approach to the example of FIA Formula E in motorsport. FIA Formula E is a new fully electric motorsport championship, which has rapidly grown and globalised in response to the low-carbon agenda within transport and mobility.

    Developing a temporal understanding of the dynamics of low-carbon transition, this thesis contributes to the socio-technical transition literature, including the process of operationalisation of regimes, delineating the composition and agency of the socio-technical landscape level, the identification of alternative transition pathways, and the influence of interrelated systems on the overall dynamics of transitions. The concept of disruptive innovation within low-carbon shifts is considered.

    Empirically, the thesis undertakes a two-phase approach to the investigation of FIA Formula E. The initial scoping phase is based on extensive analysis of documentary data and expert interviews. The main phase includes twenty-six semi-structured interviews with senior actors involved directly with FIA Formula E in the period of time considered for this study (from August 2012 until August 2017).

    Examining micro-changes in actors and relations, between levels and amongst regimes, from season zero to season three of FIA Formula E, this research leads to three outcomes: first, it uncovers a regime-led transition pathway where the socio-economic landscape level, the patchwork of regimes level and the influence of adjacent interrelated systems play a role in triggering, shaping and enacting this low-carbon sustainable shift. Second, it argues that by acknowledging further the temporal system dynamics in transition processes, several factors are illuminated aside from technology (such as societal belief, power relations and vested interests of a wide range of stakeholders), which are central for strategy-building towards low-carbon transitions. Finally, by mobilising the theory of disruptive innovation within the MLP approach, this study answers the call for further exploration of novel transition pathways within low-carbon socio-technical shifts.
    Date of AwardJun 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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