Co-creation, co-evolution and co-governance: understanding green businesses and urban transformations

Yuge Ma, Thomas F. Thornton, Diana Mangalagiu, Jing Lan, Dina Hestad, Elena Apostoli Cappello, Sander Van der Leeuw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Green businesses based on economic, social and technological innovations are engines of green growth and climate change adaptation across the world. However, without proper interactive mechanisms with the city, green businesses are particularly vulnerable in today’s fast-changing socio-economic and political urban contexts. Existing research on climate change adaptation and low-carbon transitions have not explained the crucial components and mechanisms involved in realising sustainable transformations through green businesses in cities. Synthesizing the latest green innovation and urban transformation literature, the paper analyses four distinctive urban green business cases: free-floating bike sharing in Shanghai (Mobike), a renewable energy cooperative in Girona (Som Energia), urban agriculture in Venice and green building start-ups in Istanbul. Based on a comparative analysis, we theorize a 3-Co model to explain the city-green-business transformation process consisting of: first, co-creation of sustainable values between green business and the respective society; second, co-evolution between the business ecosystem and the city’s visions and policies; and third, co-governance of sustainable trade-offs during the business development and implementation process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-636
Number of pages16
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cities
  • Co-evolution
  • Collaborative governance
  • Green business
  • Social innovation
  • Urban transformations
  • Value co-creation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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