It’s Not the Market, Stupid: On the Importance of Non-market Economies in Sustainability Transitions

Published on 1 March 2022

It has been widely assumed that market mechanisms are central in incentivizing the development of sustainable innovations and that market formation is critical for the diffusion of innovations. We challenge the centrality of markets in understanding and promoting the development and diffusion of sustainable innovations using the case of the System of Rice Intensification.

This innovation for sustainable rice cultivation was developed and diffused without relying on market mechanisms yet has been adopted by millions of farmers worldwide. To further our understanding of economic mechanisms beyond markets, we revisit Polanyi’s distinction between markets, reciprocity, redistribution, and subsistence. This distinction helps to situate markets in a broader economic context and helps to understand how mechanisms for market exchange intersect with other types of economies in ways that can either positively or negatively affect sustainability.

Cite this publication

Beumer, K.; Harro M. and Glover, D. (2022) 'It's not the market, stupid: On the importance of non-market economies in sustainability transitions,' Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 42:429-441, DOI: 1016/j.eist.2022.02.001


Dominic Glover

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

Koen Beumer
Harro Maat

Publication details

published by