Urban Living Labs: A multiple case study on how and why stakeholders, with emphasis on citizens, collaborate to co-create sustainable mobility solutions for the cities of the future

Oda Furnes Svenungsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Urbanization is spreading at a rapid pace, putting cities under heavy pressure with environmental issues such as global warming resulting from CO2 emission. A sense of urgency to find solutions is consequently widespread, and society at large is striving to find suitable and inventive ways to adapt. As a result, Urban Living Labs (ULLs) have emerged. By comparing three different ULLs in Norway, this thesis aims to see how different actors, consisting of political, private, academic, and public stakeholders, work together to create sustainable mobility solutions. Through the use of an analytical framework consisting of the Quintuple Helix Model, four values of co-creation, and four roles of citizens, this thesis hence seeks to explore why and how the stakeholders collaborate, and what role the citizens are perceived to have in such collaboration. The research suggests that the reason why stakeholders collaborate is mainly to achieve social innovation by challenging existing social frameworks. This overarching goal can further be backed up by an underlying focus on product innovation and how this can enhance efficient and sustainable outcomes. How the collaboration take form is characterized by the creation of a sharing culture, which focuses on bringing out the best of each other through building on each stakeholders’ strength and expertise. The responsible stakeholder for connecting citizens seems, however, to be unclear, mostly varying between political and private stakeholders. It is further emphasized that the lack of experience with citizen involvement hinders the ULLs` potential of collaborating with the citizens. Consequently, a cultural shift appreciating collaboration with multiple stakeholders, i.e. multi-stakeholder collaboration, is required. Additional factors influencing the collaboration potential of enhancing knowledge creation are public budgets, laws, and time. The role of the citizens in the collaboration appears to range from being testers of products to being active contributors to the development process, where the latter is most common. It is ultimately argued that ULLs are currently being shaped by elements from both New Public Management and New Public Governance, forming the motivations, structures, and roles of the collaboration. As a result, hereof ULLs are seen to work as initiatives that facilitate a collaborative approach towards urban governance.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages89
SupervisorsKarl-Heinz Pogner