The role of problem-solution convergence on ZEV adoption: A comparative case study on the Zero Emission Vehicle policy discourse in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands
MetadataShow full item record
The negative effects of fossil-fuel based road transport systems have become more apparent in recent years. Adopting vehicles that do not emit exhaust gases, namely Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), can address these negative effects. Therefore, governments aim to increase ZEV adoption. In implementing the policy needed to do so, actors engage in discourse and framing to influence policy to suit their interests. Thus, policy discourse evolves, and at best, converges around clear problem and solution statements to achieve effective and legitimate policy. This thesis aims to understand policy formation by studying the role and effects of framing in ZEV discourse in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands. Framing practices are studied as actors use them to make sense of situations and guide collective action. A comparative study of policy developments in both countries from a discourse and framing perspective is insightful because they are culturally and institutionally similar. In addition, the two countries are considered to have different rates of early adoption of ZEVs, with the Netherlands being more successful. The Problem-Solution Space (PSS) was used to study the degree of convergence on topics over time by assessing how contested, complex, and uncertain problems and solutions were in the discourse. Framing strategies were used to categorize texts from news articles, government reports and private publications into whether they were diagnosing problems, prognosing benefits, or motivating actors to act on these problems and solutions. Interviews were conducted to validate and expand on the findings from the document analysis. The analysis shows that in the UK early problem discussions revolved around local air pollution and energy dependence. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were not seen as the best solution until later. Businesses diagnostically framed the issues around BEVs. In the Netherlands, in addition to the UK’s problems, global warming and noise pollution were identified as problems. Furthermore, EVs were seen as the best solution from the beginning and framing practices of the different types of actors were mostly aligned. Thus, in the Netherlands the problems and solutions were converged on earlier. This study shows that convergence can help explain the rate of ZEV adoption in different contexts. Furthermore, using discourse analysis to study framing and convergence allows policymakers to better understand actors’ influence on policy discourse. This allows for the identification of situations where focusing policy efforts can help speed up convergence around societal challenges, helping policymakers to address them.