Projects, Agency and the Multi-Level Perspective : Insights from Numerical Weather Prediction

1. Introduction :
There is growing interest in the field of innovation studies for the question of technological transitions. Indeed whereas most of the literature focuses on the design and diffusion of innovations, the question of transition from one technological system to another has recently gained a renewed attention. This is very probably triggered by the growing awareness that climate change will will force our society to profoundly change their functioning in many domains (agriculture, transportation, energy, etc). In particular, the work of Frank Geels leads to an important research stream on the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) framework (Geels, 2002 & next). The MLP represent the transition from one technology to another by the interaction between three different levels : the landscape, the current technological regime and niche in which radical innovations first appears. This frameworks leads to a renewal of the analysis of technological transition since it integrates scientific, technical, social and regulatory dimensions. Therefore the MLP sheds a new light on major technological transitions (e.g. from horse transportation to automobiles in Geels, 2005) and allows to identify different type of technological transitions (Geels & Schot, 2007). Of course the MLP is not without criticism (Smith & al, 2005 ; Genus & Cole, 2008). In particular a recurring question relates to the problem of agency and the relative lack of the actor’s perspective in the MLP. Indeed, until now, research on MLP tends to favor longitudinal historical studies over a long time span.