Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PhD position on “Multi-actor governance for sustainable materials management”

In the framework of the policy support centre on sustainable materials management (SuMMa) of the Flemish government that will start in 2012, a PhD position is available on the topic of “Multi-actor governance for sustainable materials management”. The PhD researcher will be employed at the HUBrussel and jointly supervised with Wageningen University. The promoter of the PhD research will be Prof. Dr. ir. Katrien Termeer (Wageningen University) and co-promoters will be Marc Craps (HUBrussel) and myself.

For more information or to apply, please contact Marc Craps or Art Dewulf.

Description of the project

The governance challenges for sustainable materials management are manifold. Entire production and consumptions systems need to be innovated to be able to close the materials circle, requiring transformations from linear supply chains to production-consumption-production cycles. Even without considering the challenges of redesigning material flows on a global level, these transformations present difficult exercises in steering society in a more sustainable direction. Multi-actor governance, implying cooperation between a wide range of public and private actors, is required to make this happen. Working across the boundaries of organizations will be necessary, between government organizations, designers, industries, retailers, NGO’s, consumers, research and education etc. Closing materials cycles creates new interdependencies between government and businesses (e.g. coordinating innovations in materials processing with regulations on production systems and waste treatment), and between producers and consumers (e.g. producers start to depend on consumers for their supply of reusable materials).
Multi-actor governance implies a broad innovation in the public policy field. Focusing on policy networks and policy communities is both more encompassing and discriminating. It involves attention to informal, non-governmental as well as formal, governmental mechanisms, and further differentiation of actors and relationships within the government as well as in society. In any policy domain, a variety of actors take initiatives to achieve their objectives and develop relationships to influence the outcomes. This multi-actor process shapes societal coordination. The patterns that emerge do not rest solely on government authority, but on a multiplicity of in(ter)dependent actors, specific to the policy arena. As such, the networks that develop in this process are – at least to large extent – self-organizing. They function as informal social systems, rather than bureaucratic structures, based on mutual, open-ended commitment, rather than formal contracts.
This research project involves answering fundamental questions, like how can existing concepts and theoretical frameworks on multi-actor collaboration be further developed to make them relevant and applicable for the complex sustainability challenges of materials management? It also involves applied research questions related to the concrete Flemish cases and practices at the core of this research proposal.


We are looking for a social scientist with a background in public administration, policy sciences, organization sciences, or communication sciences and a keen interest in multi-actor governance and interaction processes in complex sustainability issues. Academic writing skills are important, because the dissertation will be composed of journal articles in international peer reviewed journals. Fluency in Dutch and English and good communication skills are required to work with stakeholders in cases of sustainable materials management. Experience with empirical research projects, interdisciplinary research, group process facilitation and both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be considered as an advantage.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Discursive interaction strategies for 'doing differences'

This year, I finally took the time to submit a paper that I still consider to be one of the best parts of my dissertation, despite (or perhaps thanks to) the fact that involves an unusual combination of things: a conceptual framework based on multi-actor change, interactional framing theory, dealing with dualities and discursive psychology, a methodological approach based on discourse and conversation analysis, a case of hydraulic modeling for an irrigation system and a context of development cooperation in South America. I'm very happy it has now been accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science as part of a special issue on qualitative approaches to change. The comments by the reviewers and the editorial guidance by Inger Stensaker really helped me to turn this paper into a coherent and digestable article - so I hope. The key contribution is the identification of a set of interaction strategies for dealing with differences in issue framing (see figure). The article is due to appear in 2012, but the pre-print can be downloaded here.

Issue framing in conversations for change: discursive interaction strategies for ‘doing differences’

Art Dewulf and René Bouwen

In conversations for change between multiple actors about complex issues, differences in issue framing are bound to emerge. When the participants frame the meaning of an issue in diverging terms, they face the challenge of dealing with this frame difference in the further conversation. We draw on literature on framing, dualities and interaction to explore how participants in conversations deal with these frame differences through language-in-interaction. With discourse and conversation analysis as a methodological approach, we analyzed interaction sequences in the context of multi-actor projects of natural resources management. We identify five interaction strategies that involve different ways of ‘doing differences’: frame incorporation, frame disconnection, frame polarization, frame accommodation and frame reconnection. The discursive characteristics of each of these interaction strategies can be understood by considering the multiple interactional challenges faced by participants when they engage in conversations for change.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Towards theoretical multiplicity for the governance of transitions: the energy-producing greenhouse case

An article by Katrien Termeer and myself - that we worked on in 2010 - is finally in press in the International Journal of Sustainable Development! In the article we apply our multiple theory approach to understanding societal change processes to the case of the energy-producing greenhouse.

Towards theoretical multiplicity for the governance of transitions: the energy-producing greenhouse case

Transition management has become an important topic in scientific research on sustainable development over the last decade. A recurring question is whether, and if so how, transitions towards sustainability can be governed. In this paper we address this question by theoretically comparing transition management theory with a number of related theories on governing societal change, such as multi-actor collaboration, network governance, policy agenda setting and adaptive management. We illustrate the different approaches by analysing the Dutch transition case of the greenhouse as a source of energy from different theoretical perspectives. We conclude that these theories reveal additional and more varied leadership mechanisms and steering options than the overarching approach of transition management alone. Therefore, we suggest an approach of theoretical multiplicity, arguing that multiple theories need to be applied simultaneously for dealing with the complex societal sustainability issues.

Keywords: governance; transitions; transition management; sustainability; sustainable agriculture; theoretical multiplicity; energy; greenhouse.

This is the full reference: Termeer, C.J.A.M. and Dewulf, A. (2012) ‘Towards theoretical multiplicity for the governance of transitions: the energy-producing greenhouse case’, Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 15, Nos. 1/2, pp.37–53.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Call for Papers for MOPAN 2012 on-line!

The MOPAN conference series focusses on partnerships, alliances and networks between any combination of business actors, civil society actors and governmental actors. Together with the organising committee of MOPAN 2012 at Wageningen, I've been very busy trying to get the Call for Papers ready. The call is now is now available at www.mopan2012.wur.nl! Spread the word!

The 2012 Conference Theme is "Multi-actor collaboration in an uncertain and ambiguous world".

We invite papers and other contributions (symposia, workshops, games, videos, …) related to the conference theme or one of the thematic tracks:

Track 1. Dealing with frame diversity in collaborative water governance
Track 2. Towards Version 2.0 of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Rethinking business-NGO- government relationships in governing sustainable production of global commodities
Track 3. Power in multi-stakeholder processes for development
Track 4. Facilitating resilience in multi-actor collaboration
Track 5. Innovation networks: self-organization and adaptive management
Track 6. Stakeholder involvement in the United Nations
Track 7. Network Dynamics
Track 8. Complexity leadership and sustainable development
Track 9. Multi-actor pilot projects and policy experiments
Track 10. Global Action Networks

Please outline your contribution in an abstract of maximum 500 words and send it to mopan2012@wur.nl, indicating whether you submit it to the general conference or to one of the thematic tracks.

Important dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts: January 15
Notification of acceptance: March 15
Registration open: March 15
Early registration deadline: May 1st
Deadline Full papers: May 15
Final registration deadline: June 15

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WASS Research Day "Knowledge in Society: Contestation, Boundaries and Bridges"

Through some combination of participating in a WASS Talents and Topics course and in the WASS Research and Assessment Committee, I got involved in organizing this WASS Research Day. WASS stands for Wageningen School of Social Sciences, by the way, and the Research Day addresses one of the four research themes of the school. I'm very happy that both Mike Hulme and Marjolein van Asselt were willing to give a talk at the Research Day, and I'm looking forward to the abstracts and presentations. The call is still open, until October 15th - I copied the announcement below.

WASS Research Day "Knowledge in Society: Contestation, Boundaries and Bridges"

1 Nov 2011, 9:00 - 16:00, Wageningen

While it is agreed that the world is facing important challenges, there are strong disagreements in society on how these can or must be tackled. Interdependent actors tend to frame problems and underlying causes differently and hence pursue different solutions and strategies to realize these. In addition, different stakeholders have different views on the risks associated with developments in science and society. At the same time the capacity of scientists to offer authoritative interpretations of reality seems to be diminishing. Yet, for developing and realizing innovative solutions to societal challenges it is imperative to accommodate and integrate diverging understandings. This theme studies how and why different perspectives of reality emerge, how science and other forms of expertise interact, and which prospects exists for dealing with diverging understandings in a productive manner.

"Climate change: knowledge, risk and governance"

Mike Hulme
Professor of Climate Change
University of East Anglia

For the mini-conference we invite contributions on the topic "Climate change: knowledge, risk and governance" or on the broader WASS research theme "Knowledge in Society: Contestation, Boundaries and Bridges". This is an excellent opportunity to meet internationally renowned scholars on the topic and to exchange and discuss your work in the WASS community.

If you want to present your work on the WASS Research Day "Knowledge in Society", please send a 300 word abstract to wass@wur.nl by October 15. Based on the submissions different thematic sessions will be organized.

The Research Day is an initiative of WASS Research and Assessment Committee, and is organized by the WASS Office together with Art Dewulf (PAP), Esther Turnhout (FNP) and Severine van Bommel (COM).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Framing Matters

Peter Lang has recently published a book on "Framing Matters. Perspectives on Negotiation Research and Practice", edited by Bill Donohue, Randall Rogan and Sanda Kaufman.

Together with Barbara Gray, Linda Putnam and René Bouwen, I contributed the first chapter entitled "An interactional approach to framing in conflict and negotiation" (click here to download).

The book relies on the framing metaphor that is commonly used in negotiation and communication research to characterize how individuals place interpretive and linguistic boundaries around phenomena, objects, or events. This book develops this construct, exploring its potential to provide research insights, and illustrating new strategies for further development. Divided into three sections, the book first captures the breadth of the theoretical framing construct, then focuses on the many ways in which the construct has been researched and applied. The final section reflects on the construct's potential, and its value in understanding negotiation.

An inspiring group of contributors - all experts in framing theory and conflict/negotiation management - outline how the framing construct is viewed theoretically by research scholars, and in the field by conflict resolution practitioners. These are the chapters:

William Donohue/Randall Rogan/Sanda Kaufman: Introduction

Art Dewulf/Barbara Gray/Linda Putnam/René Bouwen: An Interactional Approach to Framing in Conflict and Negotiation

William A. Donohue: An Interactionist Approach to Frames

Mara Olekalns/Philip L. Smith: Mindsets: Sensemaking and Transition in Negotiation

Petru L. Curseu: Framing Effects in Small-Group and Intergroup Negotiation: A Cognitive Perspective

Laurence de Carlo: Proposing a Debate on the Concept of Frames in Negotiation Enlightened by Psychoanalytical Insights

Roy J. Lewicki/Chad T. Brinsfield: Framing Trust: Trust as a Heuristic

Michael H.G. Hoffmann: Analyzing Framing Processes in Conflicts and Communication by Means of Logical Argument Mapping

Sanda Kaufman/Deborah Shmueli: Framing in Public Decision Interactions: Transferring Theory to Practice

Séverine van Bommel/Noelle Aarts: Framing Nature Conservation Experts and Expertise in the Drentsche Aa Area in the Netherlands: A Contextual Approach

Randall G. Rogan: «Death to America»: A Frame Analysis of Osama bin Laden's Declarations of War against the United States

Noelle Aarts/Maartje van Lieshout/Cees van Woerkum: Competing Claims in Public Space: The Construction of Frames in Different Relational Contexts

Daniel Druckman/James N. Druckman: The Many Faces of Framing in Negotiation

Peter J. Carnevale: Dynamics of Frame Change: The Remarkable Lightness of Frames, and Sticky Frames.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Special Issue on the governance of climate adaptation in Climate Law

In a special issue of the journal Climate Law 'Adaptation in Delta Regions' five scientific papers were published. These publications are a direct result of the Deltas in Times of Climate Change conference, held in Rotterdam in 2010, and the research of the Governance theme of the Knowledge for Climate programme.

The introduction and the five papers (click here to download them) in this special issue focus particularly on the governance of adaptation as a state-led activity at national, regional, and local levels. They all show how these state-led initiatives are surrounded (supported or hindered) by networks of public and private actors. The papers illustrate the richness of activity in state institutions at different scales, and they emphasize the importance of learning and of handling risk and uncertainty in climate change adaptation. The papers all reflect the most current theories on governance.

  • Elizabeth Wilson and Catrien Termeer, Governance of climate change adaptation: Introduction to the Special Issue of Climate Law
  • Catrien Termeer, Art Dewulf, Helena van Rijswick, Arwin van Buuren, Dave Huitema, Sander Meijerink, Tim Rayner and Mark Wiering, The regional governance of climate adaptation: A framework for developing legitimate, effective, and resilient governance arrangements
  • Robbert Biesbroek, Judith Klostermann, Catrien Termeer and Pavel Kabat, Barriers to climate change adaptation in the Netherlands
  • Tineke Ruijgh-van der Ploeg, Manifestations of adaptive capacity: An institutional analysis of adaptation of a local stormwater drainage system
  • Stefania Munaretto and Judith E. M. Klostermann, Assessing adaptive capacity of institutions to climate change: A comparative case study of the Dutch Wadden Sea and the Venice Lagoon
  • Heleen-Lydeke P. Mees and Peter P. J. Driessen, Adaptation to climate change in urban areas: Climate-greening London, Rotterdam, and Toronto

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Call for papers: "The Governance of Adaptation to Climate Change. An international symposium"

In March 2012 a two day conference will be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on “The governance of adaptation”, organized by our Knowledge for Climate consortium on Governance of Adaptation . Topics to be discussed include: the framing of adaptation problems and goals, modes of governance and available instruments, agency and leadership in adaptation governance, science-policy interaction and adaptation. You are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 250 words on relevant issues before the 15th of October 2011. We seek to bring together around 50 scholars, who will be selected after a review of abstract to be submitted to governanceofadaptation@ivm.vu.nl. A contribution to travel costs is available for all participants with an approved abstract. Presenters from within Europe will receive 150 Euros, travelers from outside Europe 500 Euros.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MOPAN 2011 Glasgow and MOPAN 2012 Wageningen

This year's small but vibrant edition of the MOPAN conference organized by Pam Hearne at the Strathclyde Business School had a lot to offer for adepts of multi-organisational partnerships, alliances and networks. With contributions from the health sector to the construction sector, cases from India to Panama and work forms from keynotes to workshops, the conference was very enjoyable. We had papers and an improvised workshop on the location and forms of leadership in inter-organizational collaboration. A theory workshop led by Steve Cropper led to animated discussions about the nature and value of ancient, modern, symbolic-interpretive and postmodern theoretical contributions to the study of inter-organizational relations. Sandra Schruijer introduced us to the psychodynamics of inter-organizational collaboration and the role of fear (fear of taking the lead, fear of loosing power, fear of rejection, etc.). Invited speaker Nic Beech entertained us with an analysis of organising practices in the creative industries of folk and classical music. A number of people (including PhD students from the Utrecht-Nijmegen Programme on Partnerships, UNPOP) discussed business-ngo partnerships, both from the perspective of companies (CSR) and from the perspective of ngo's (activism). We also had the opportunity to engage with Scottish tradition in a whisky tasting at the Corinthian Club - for those interested, among the rich and rounded Singleton, the delicate and floral Glenkinchie, the full bodied Talisker and the fruity and spicy Dalwhinnie, the latter got the majority vote!

I'm already busy organising the 19th Annual Conference on Multi-Organisational Partnerships, Alliances and Networks (MOPAN 2012), which will take place from July 2nd – 4th 2012 at Wageningen. A conference website will be on-line soon at http://www.mopan2012.wur.nl

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fragmentation and connection of frames in collaborative water governance

This article dates back to my work with ACORDES at the University of Cuenca. Together with Monica Mancero, German Cárdenas and Dolores, we analyzed a case of river catchment management in Ecuador. The focus is on the fragmentation and connection of frames in this water governance process, with special attention to problem domain framing, issue framing and scale framing. The article is part of a symposium on water governance, guest-edited by Jurian Edelenbos and Geert Teisman, in the International Review of Administrative Sciences.

This the abstract:

In collaborative water governance, the variety of frames that actors bring to the discussion constitutes an important challenge. In this study, we analyse the fragmentation and connection of frames in collaborative water governance projects in the Paute catchment and its sub-catchment Tabacay in the Southern Andes of Ecuador. We rely on frame analysis of project documents, interviews and meeting recordings to analyse the initial stages of these projects. We discuss (1) the different roles of problem domain framing and issue framing in frame fragmentation; (2) the significance of scale framing to problem domain and issue framing; (3) the challenge of connecting expert frames with frames of other actors; and (4) the importance of face-to-face dialogue for connecting frames.

Points for practitioners

Professionals in public management and administration all over the world are increasingly involved in governance processes where they have to deal with a multitude of actors and perspectives. If their task involves setting up collaborative projects with other governmental agencies, civil society organizations and/or business actors, there is much to gain by paying close attention to how they themselves and other actors are framing both the problem domain and the issues involved. In processes of collaborative water governance, additional attention is required for how projects are framed with respect to water system scales and administrative scales, and for how technical framing of the issues connects to the frames and experiences of other actors.

Here's the full reference:

Dewulf, A., Mancero, M., Cárdenas, G., & Sucozhañay, D. (2011). Fragmentation and connection of frames in collaborative water governance: a case study of river catchment management in Southern Ecuador. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 77(1), 50-75. doi: 10.1177/0020852310390108

The article can also be downloaded here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do scale frames matter?

One of the PhD students I'm working with - Maartje van Lieshout - has just published an article on Scale Frame Mismatches in the Decision Making Process of a “Mega Farm” in a Small Dutch Village. The article is part of a special issue on Scale and Governance in the interdisciplinary open access journal Ecology and Society.

This is the abstract:

Scale issues are an increasingly important feature of complex sustainability issues, but they are mostly taken for granted in policy processes. However, the scale at which a problem is defined as well as the scale at which it should be solved are potentially contentious issues. The framing of a problem as a local, regional, or global problem is not without consequences and influences processes of inclusion and exclusion. Little is known about the ways actors frame scales and the effect of different scale frames on decision making processes. This paper addresses the questions that different scale frames actors use and what the implications of scale frames are for policy processes. It does so by analyzing the scale frames deployed by different actors on the establishment of a so-called new mixed company or mega farm and the related decision making process in a Dutch municipality. We find that actors deploy different and conflicting scale frames, leading to scale frame mismatches. We conclude that scale frame mismatches play an important role in the stagnation of the decision making process.

This is the full reference:

van Lieshout, M., A. Dewulf, N. Aarts, and C. Termeer. 2011. Do scale frames matter? Scale frame mismatches in the decision making process about a “mega farm” in a small Dutch village. Ecology and Society 16(1): 38. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss1/art38/

The pdf-version of the article can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MOPAN 2011 Call for papers!

Pam Hearne at Strathclyde University (Glasgow) has been taking care of the arrangements for MOPAN 2011. The website is up at http://www.sbs.strath.ac.uk/mopan2011/ and a call for papers is waiting for your abstracts.

The theme of this year's conference is "Interventions in collaboration systems"

From the website:

"This year the conference will be held in the University of Strathclyde Business School building at 199 Cathedral Street in Glasgow. An early bird discount on bookings is available for any made prior to May 1st. See Registration.

April 8th is the deadline for abstracts. See Call for Papers.

For fees and accommodation details see registration

For further information, please contact sbs-mopan@strath.ac.uk"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two climate conferences put interesting material on-line

The "Deltas in Times of Climate Change" conference (Rotterdam) and the "Climate Controversies: Science and Politics" conference (Brussels/Paris) have put papers, slides and recorded presentations on-line.

Climate controversies: science and politics

"Climategate" and climate skepticism received a lot of attention at this event. The majority of the presentations from the conference are now accessible on the siteshttp://climatecontroversies.ulb.ac.be (for the Brussels events), andhttp://www.iddri.org/Activites/Conferences-internationales/Controverses-climatiques-sciences-et-politique (for the Paris proceedings - including a presentation by Bruno Latour).

Deltas in time of Climate Change

From the conference website:

The participants debated climate adaptation strategies for deltas and delta cities and exchanged knowledge, which was widely offered in 70+ sessions. Many contacts between scientists, policy makers and practitioners were established, refreshed and deepened. Relations between delta cities in and outside Connecting Delta Cities (CDC) were strengthened and the Delta Alliance was launched.

High profile guests during the opening session included His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, who gave the opening speech, Nguyen Thai Lai (Vice Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam), Ahmed Aboutaleb (Mayor of Rotterdam), Delta Commissioner Wim Kuijken and Cedric Grant (Deputee Mayor of New Orleans) who gave a moving presentation on the state of New Orleans five years after Katrina.

The audience was updated byMichael Oppenheimer (Princeton University, USA) and Martin Parry(Imperial College London, United Kingdom) about sea level rise and other factors playing a crucial role in deltas. Pavel Kabat (Climate changes Spatial Planning) gave a presentation on Dutch climate research and Malcom Smith (architect at ARUP) triggered the audience with a few challenging thoughts for the rest of the conference.

The results of the conference can be found here

Friday, February 4, 2011

Looking for a new colleague!

The Public Administration and Policy Group at Wageningen University is looking for an Assistant Professor.

This is the job description:

"As an Assistant Professor you will participate in the research program “changing governance, governing change”. Within this context you will develop a research line that focuses on international organizations and global/European governance related to the Wageningen research domains. You will lecture courses in public administration and governance to students both in social and natural sciences at Wageningen University and co-supervise PhD’s. In addition, you are expected to contribute actively to the acquisition of research grants, consultancy and research projects."

More information can be found on the Academic Transfer website.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Call for papers on "Interactional framing in policy controversies" at the IPA conference

The 6th International Conference on Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) takes place from Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25, 2011 at Cardiff University (Wales, UK). The call for papers is open until January 31st.

Together with Maartje van Lieshout we have organised a panel at this conference, on Interactional framing in policy controversies.

An interactional approach to framing focuses on how people react to each other’s on-going framing and the way they use language to frame the issues. Instead of focusing on what’s going on ‘between the ears’, we try to better understand what is going on ‘between the noses’ of people. This draws the attention to the concrete interactions where actors make sense of problems and possible solutions, and how they affect each other's frames in and through a developing interaction.

The papers will address interactional framing by examining questions such as: How does the process of framing in interaction work? Which factors of successful framing can be distinguished? What is the impact of interactional framing processes on the outcomes of policy controversies? While they all focus on processes of framing in interaction, the papers in this panel address different policy themes-environmental problems, social problems, and crisis management- and different policy processes – informal meetings, formal (administrative) meetings, and public deliberation. By examining these different contexts, we hope to deepen our understanding of
interactional framing processes.

Interested? Submit a 300 word abstract to maartje.vanlieshout@wur.nl before January 31st.