Monday, August 22, 2016

Governing adaptation to climate change through continuous transformational change?

UKCIP report on transformational adaptation
In an attempt to contribute to the debate on incremental and transformational adaptation to climate change (see e.g. Kates et al. 2012 or UKCIP report on transformational adaptation), Katrien Termeer, Robbert Biesbroek and myself have revisited the transformational change debate in organisational sciences, and come up with an alternative conceptualization of 'continuous transformational change'. The resulting article has been published on-line in the Journal of Environment Planning and Management.

Transformational change: governance interventions for climate change adaptation from a continuous change perspective

This is the abstract: 
Although transformational change is a rather new topic in climate change adaptation literature, it has been studied in organisational theory for over 30 years. This paper argues that governance scholars can learn much from organisation theory, more specifically regarding the conceptualisation of change and intervention strategies. We reconceptualise the divide between transformational change and incremental change by questioning the feasibility of changes that are concurrently in-depth, large scale, and quick; and the assumption that incremental change is necessarily slow and can only result in superficial changes. To go beyond this dichotomy, we introduce the conceptualisation of continuous transformational change. Resulting intervention strategies include (1) providing basic conditions for enabling small in-depth wins; (2) amplifying small wins through sensemaking, coupling, and integrating; and (3) unblocking stagnations by confronting social and cognitive fixations with counterintuitive interventions. These interventions necessitate a modest leadership. Governing transformational change thus requires transformation of the governance systems themselves.
The article can be found at or downloaded here

Termeer, C. J. A. M., Dewulf, A., & Biesbroek, G. R. (2016). Transformational change: governance interventions for climate change adaptation from a continuous change perspective. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, on-line first. doi:10.1080/09640568.2016.1168288

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