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From Niche to Mainstream: The Dilemmas of Scaling Up Alternatives

At the heart of the research on transition lies the question how to scale up sustainable alternatives from niche to mainstream. While upscaling processes are often seen as an essential element that contributes to societal transformation, upscaling itself remains a fuzzy concept. This article identifies three fundamental dilemmas of upscaling: (1) the different understandings of the concept by researchers and practitioners, (2) the oversimplification of scaling up processes, (3) the reluctance to scale up due to potential risks of losing sustainability. The paper suggests that such dilemmas should be addressed in a more reflexive way by actors from the communities of science and practice who are involved in collaborative research settings.