An alternative explanation to the persistence of the automobility paradigm: the role of policy calibrations in shaping policy change.


  • Thu Pham Aalto University


policy paradigm, policy calibration, policy change, sustainable mobility




The persistence of the automobility paradigm is among the top concerns in the discussion on transitioning to sustainable transport. Many studies have identified policy instruments needed to facilitate this transition. However not much is understood about the role of micro-level changes in policy calibrations in shaping instrument preferences during implementation and the pattern of policy change. To contribute to this research gap, this paper examines a case study of transport policies development for sustainable mobility transition in the city of Espoo, Finland. The period from 2013-2023 is selected to study temporal policy change as 2013 marks the city’s starting point of sustainable development work and these ten years have seen positive developments in Espoo’s transport policies to reduce traffic emissions. Espoo presents an interesting case study as the city set out ambitious traffic emission reduction goal, aspiring to be a model example as Europe’s most sustainable city, but retains its appreciations for car uses as a significant part of its future transport network. As such, Espoo’s case study would provide us with insightful findings to enrich our understanding on barriers to a paradigmatic change to sustainable mobility.

The paper begins with a review of the literature on the taxonomy of policy components to explain the significance of policy calibrations in shaping policy change. It then discusses key ideas comprising the sustainable mobility paradigm and assesses how these ideas are translated into different policy components over time in the case study. By illustrating how policy changes are concentrated in instrument calibrations, the paper seeks to demonstrates the role of policy calibrations in reinforcing existing direction of change and acting as barriers to a more radical paradigmatic policy change to reduce car traffic volumes.