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• Product Service System (PSS) design is reviewed in light of the principles and priorities of fluid transitions.
• Alternate purposes, programmes and assessments are needed to ensure PSS design can embrace diversity.
• PSS are situated and therefore PSS design must recognise and respond to differences in context.
• A commitment to pragmatism is necessary to enable PSS design to contribute to locally defined responses to sustainability.
• Greater participation in PSS design is needed to include the voices of actors outside the scientific community.
While Product Service Systems (PSS) are not inherently sustainable, they may form part of the mix of innovations that contribute to the development of more sustainable futures. However, whether the current trajectory of PSS research, with its emphasis on universal frameworks and standardisation adequately reflects and builds upon PSS diversity revealed by case study research may be questioned. Opportunities for transition to more sustainable PSS may be lost. In response, this paper draws on sustainable architecture to propose fluid transitions to more sustainable PSS: to PSS design practices that embrace diversity and enable specific PSS to be developed which address contextual interpretations of sustainability challenges. The core ideas of the PSS design are critically engaged in light of the principles and priorities of fluid transitions. Research directions to support fluid transitions to more sustainable PSS design practices are then explicated.
Journal: Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions - Volume 12, September 2014, Pages 1–13