I am an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented researcher, trained in sustainability transitions, science, technology and innovation (STI) policy studies, innovation studies, from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (China, master, 2015), and Sussex University (UK, PhD, 2020).
I strive to understand how the socio-technical systems which deliver social functions of our current society such as the energy and transport sectors, can be transformed towards more inclusive and sustainable directions. Towards this end, I do case studies and empirical research to understand the interactions among technological change, organisational change and institutional change which perform this system dynamics. I have special interest in sustainability transitions at regional level, national level and city level, geographically I am particularly interested in the global south context, or the emerging economies.
My current research interests include:
- How to conceptualise ‘acceleration’ to capture the nature of complexity and dynamics of the ongoing transitions.
- How to create synergies of transformations in the energy and transport sectors towards sustainability;
- The role of policies in shaping sustainability transformation. Under this theme, I am especially interested to reflect on the questions: to what extent that STI policy is still relevant for this purpose; how to understand transformative innovation policy in the global south context.
- How to understand regional differences of transitions pathways towards sustainability;
- How to build transformative innovation capacities at regional level towards inclusive sustainability;
I am currently working with teams for NTRANS - Norwegian Centre for Energy Transition Strategies. I am serving as a member of Steering Group of Sustainability Transitions Research Network, and an associated faculty of SPRU, University of Sussex, UK.
I got my PhD from SPRU, University of Sussex (UK), supervised by prof Johan Schot and Dr Ralitsa Hiteva.
For my PhD research, I asked the questions of how to explain the rapid development of solar and wind power in China, and to what extent that the two create potentials to transform China’s energy system towards sustainability. For this purpose, I studied the interaction dynamics between renewable energy sector, coal power sector and grid companies. Especially I investigated the solar and wind power development dynamics in China’s two provinces, Inner Mongolia and Jiangsu province to understand how the two differ or similar in regarding the development patterns and directions of transformation in their future energy systems.
For my doctoral studies, I was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development to conduct my fieldwork in China. In 2019, supported by the Eu-SPRI Early Career & PhD Circulation Award, I was able to visit Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University (the Netherlands) to conduct research collaborations with prof Bernhard Truffer and my supervisor prof Johan Schot.
During my PhD period, I have worked for the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) and Transpark. For TIPC, I worked together with a very exciting and innovative international team, led by prof Johan Schot, to contribute to an innovative policy frame, transformative innovation policy, to address societal and environmental challenges. I mainly supported engagement activities from China’s partners and have produced a case study report to understand the transformation in China’s energy sector, adopting the transformative innovation learning history approach. For the Transpark, I worked together with Dr Ralitsa Hiteva and Dr Katherine Lovell, an ambitious and innovative female researcher team, with the partnership of British Parking Association, we help to reimagine parking sector as innovative spaces that deliver energy, digital and mobility services for low-carbon futures.
After finishing my PhD, I visited the Institutes of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) for one year, where I worked together with a young and energetic research team, led by prof Xiaoxuan Li, to conduct research on the evaluation and management of China's research systems and China's research policy.
Bai, A., Wu, C. and Yang, K., 2021. Evolution and Features of China’s Central Government Funding System for Basic Research. Frontiers in research metrics and analytics, 6.
Yang, K., 2021. Innovation, development and sustainability: inspirations of Freeman’s economics of hope. Innovation and Development, pp.1-6.
Yang, K., Schot, J. and Truffer, B., 2021. Shaping the directionality of sustainability transitions: the diverging development patterns of solar photovoltaics in two Chinese provinces. Regional Studies, pp.1-19.
Yang, K., Hiteva, R.P. and Schot, J., 2020. Expectation dynamics and niche acceleration in China’s wind and solar power development. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 36, pp.177-196.
Li, X., Yang, K. and Xiao, X., 2016. Scientific advice in China: the changing role of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Palgrave Communications, 2(1), pp.1-8.