Understanding smart mobility experiments in the Dutch automobility system: who is involved and what do they promise?

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In this paper, we aim to understand what ICT-related automobility experiments are initiated in the Netherlands, who is involved and what promises they make, in order to get a better understanding of the magnitude and direction of change. We show an example of how to study a large variety of experiments to understand the emergence of niches before predetermining these as analytical constructs. By analyzing 118 experiments, we can identify the emergence of two niches: an automated mobility niche and a mobility services niche. The automated niche is characterized by large involvement of incumbents and a strong technological orientation. The services niche focuses more on organizational innovations and involves many new entrants. The involvement of a third actor category, ‘mature entrants’ applies to both niches and concern those actors that fall more or less in-between the common ‘incumbent-new entrant’ dichotomy. In general, experiments in the automated niche seem to strengthen the dominant role of the car in the automobility system, while services niche experiments mainly portray an altered role of the car in an alternative mobility system. We conclude that we gained a better understanding of the experiments and emerging niches, but at this stage, developments can still head in different directions. Nevertheless, the involvement of mature entrants in both niches, we argue, can be an important indication that more substantial change is likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
Early online date30 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Automobility
  • ICT
  • Niches
  • Organizational innovation
  • Smart mobility
  • Transition experiment


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