Monday, September 29, 2014

The power to frame the scale?

The final empirical chapter in Maartje van Lieshout's PhD dissertation got published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning! Maartje successfully defended her PhD on the 8th of January this year, and her dissertation can be downloaded here. The full title of the article is:

The Power to Frame the Scale? Analysing Scalar Politics over, in and of a Deliberative Governance Process

This is the abstract:
Scale framing is a powerful mechanism in shaping the meaning of policy issues, with far-reaching consequences for governance processes in terms of responsibilities and inclusion or exclusion of actors and ideas. However scale framing has not received much attention in public administration and policy sciences. In this paper, we study scale framing in governance processes. We question how some actors ensure that their scale frames prevail, whereas other scale frames disappear. We analyse the interplay between scale framing and power dynamics in a debate about the future of Dutch intensive agriculture. We distinguish between the power dynamics: in the interaction, of the interaction and over the interaction. Our study shows that at first sight, the ‘power-over’ in this process appeared very strong and dominated the ‘power-in’ and the ‘power-of’, but in the end, surprisingly, the power-of appeared even stronger. Furthermore, we show that scale frames are powerful discursive devices in the different episodes (power-in), but the analysis of the process shows that the variety in (scale) frames largely disappears. Thus, although there are many good arguments in favour of organizing policy processes deliberatively, the process design in this case strengthened central government's power-over, rather than the other actors’ power-of.
The paper can be downloaded here or at

The full reference: is Lieshout, M. van, Dewulf, A., Aarts, N., & Termeer, C. (2014). The Power to Frame the Scale? Analysing Scalar Politics over, in and of a Deliberative Governance Process. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, (September), 1–24. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2014.936581

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Informational governance projects at Wageningen University

As part of strategic research programme of Wageningen University on Informational Governance for Sustainability, several research projects are on-going. I'm involved in two of them and they have produced nice factsheets that give an overview of these projects. Click on the banners or links below for the factsheets.

Factsheet ECOMPRIS:
Factsheet social media:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Postdoc position “Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services”

The Public Administration and Policy group at Wageningen University is urgently looking for a postdoc to carry out research in the ESPA project “Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services for poverty alleviation enabled by environmental virtual observatories (MOUNTAIN-EVO)”. We are looking for a social science researcher in this cross-disciplinary project with Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham. This position involves working with local researchers in mountain regions in Peru, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal and synthesizing the social science insights on the potential of participatory monitoring, knowledge co-generation and environmental virtual observatories for adaptive governance of water-related ecosystem services in these mountain regions. The project will be under supervision of dr. Art Dewulf and prof. Katrien Termeer of the Public Administration and Policy group. For more information on the MOUNTAIN-EVO project, see or

We are looking for ambitious and enthusiastic scientist, with a PhD in a relevant social scientific discipline and with cross-disciplinary research skills.
The ideal candidate:
• has a PhD in the field of public administration, political science, development studies, environmental studies or other relevant social-science discipline
• is familiar with the literature on ecosystem services, adaptive governance and poverty alleviation
• has experience with doing research in the global South and is prepared to travel to the different case study areas for fieldwork
• has published internationally in refereed scientific journals
• is able to write scientific articles and reports, to which many researchers contribute
• has excellent communication and writing skills in English (knowledge of Dutch or Spanish is an advantage)

We offer a full time postdoc position based at Wageningen University, for 30 months (2.5 years) with an intended starting date of 1 May or 1 June 2014. For more information or to apply, contact art . dewulf @ wur . nl (without the spaces) as soon as possible.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Analytical framework of social learning facilitated by participatory methods

As part of her PhD project at the University of Osnabrück, Geeske Scholz has just published a paper in Systemic Practice and Action Research, entitled:

Analytical framework of social learning facilitated by participatory methods

The full reference is:
Scholz, G., Dewulf, A., & Pahl-Wostl, C. (2013). An Analytical Framework of Social Learning Facilitated by Participatory Methods. Systemic Practice and Action Research. doi:10.1007/s11213-013-9310-z

Social learning among different stakeholders is often a goal in problem solving contexts such as environmental management. Participatory methods (e.g., group model building and role playing games) are frequently assumed to stimulate social learning. Yet understanding if and why this assumption is justified is quite limited. Difficulties arise from the complexity and context-dependence of processes influencing social learning. Furthermore, continuing discussion of the exact meaning and theoretical basis of social learning result in a limited capacity to assess and evaluate whether social learning has occurred. In this paper we introduce an analytical framework to develop an in depth understanding of essential processes underlying social learning facilitated by participatory methods. Concepts from different fields of science are discussed and integrated, including resource management, small group research and learning research. The individual and group perspectives are brought together via mental models and emergent roles. We added the direction of learning, being either convergent or divergent, to be able to explore if and when personal views on a problem converge into a shared understanding of a problem. The analysis of convergence and divergence of learning is facilitated through the use of the mental model concept. Methods for measurement of proposed indicators for social learning are also discussed. The framework developed provides a conceptual basis for the analysis
of social learning facilitated by participatory methods and an operationalization for application in empirical research.

The paper can be found at or downladed here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The concepts of knowledge and power in the literature on the governance of climate adaptation

A systematic review of the concepts of knowledge and power in the literature on the governance of climate adaptation has just been published in the on-line open access journal Ecology and Society. The first author is Martijn Vink, who works at our Public Administration and Policy group on a PhD project about framing processes in the governance of climate adaptation, as part of the Knowledge for Climate research programme on the governance of adaptation.

The role of knowledge and power in climate change adaptation governance: a systematic literature review

Martijn Vink, Art Dewulf and Catrien Termeer (Ecology and Society, 18(4): article 46)
The long-term character of climate change and the high costs of adaptation measures, in combination with their uncertain effects, turn climate adaptation governance into a torturous process. We systematically review the literature on climate adaptation governance to analyze the scholarly understanding of these complexities. Building on governance literature about long-term and complex policy problems, we develop a conceptual matrix based on the dimensions knowledge and power to systematically study the peer-reviewed literature on climate adaptation governance. We find that about a quarter of the reviewed journal articles do not address the knowledge or power dimension of the governance of climate change adaptation, about half of the articles discuss either the knowledge or the power dimension, and another quarter discuss both knowledge and power. The articles that do address both knowledge and power (1) conceptualize the governance of climate adaptation mainly as a complex system of regulatory frameworks and technical knowledge, (2) assume that regulatory systems can be easily adapted to new knowledge, (3) pay little attention to fluid or unorganized forms of power, e.g., negotiation, and knowledge, e.g., learning, and (4) largely neglect the interplay between the two. We argue that more research on this interplay is needed, and we discuss how puzzling and powering are a promising pair of concepts to study this.
The article can be read and downloaded at