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Multi-Level-Perspective and Conflict-Oriented Cooperative Understanding. A framework to analyse and interpret regional governance networks
Manuel Gottschick

Last modified: 2012-03-20


In this paper, a heuristic framework to analyse regional governance networks with regard to their reflexivity is introduced (Gottschick, 2013 in review}. The framework is based on two complementary Reflexive Governance approaches: The Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) (Rip and Kemp 1998; Geels 2011) focuses on social-technical structures and dynamics for societal change, whereas the Conflict-Orientated Understanding approach (CU) (Feindt, Gottschick et al. 2008) concentrates on actor specific conflicts, options for action, coalitions, and arenas for Reflexive Governance processes. These comprehensive approaches have been melted down to a set of ten questions.
Two case studies of regional governance networks have been chosen for the analysis. These networks reveal a number of similarities but also some decisive differences. Central among these are: existing network versus newly established network; strong personal interests versus weak personal interests; and scientists as consultants versus scientists as persons in charge of the workshop conduct. The framework’s analytical application has been facilitated by a structuring of the respective case studies with regard to a) goals proposed, b) concepts used, and c) outcomes observed.
The application of the framework allows for the derivation of recommendations for advancement of MLP and CU. For MLP, not only technological but also social innovations are likely to emerge on the niche level. With regard to the theory of institutional change, social innovations might be conceptualised like technological ones in MLP (see, e.g., Quack 2005). Concerning the CU approach, it seems to be promising to use the MLP to conceptualize the CU approach as method for social innovation on niche level. In this way the CU approach (in terms of preconditions) could benefit of a protected niche to develop. In niches, it might be possible to experiment with new actor-coalitions and to overcome some strategic behaviour of actors.

Feindt, P. H., M. Gottschick, et al., Eds. (2008). Nachhaltige Agrarpolitik als reflexive Politik. Plädoyer für einen neuen Diskurs zwischen Politik und Wissenschaft. Berlin, edition sigma.
Geels, F. W. (2011). "The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms." Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 1(1): 24-40.
Gottschick, M. (2013 in review). "How Reflexive Governance Helps on the Regional Level Framework to Analyse, Interpret, and Support Reflexivity in Regional Governance Networks" Journal for Environmental Policy & Planing.
Quack, S. (2005). Zum Werden und Vergehen von Institutionen. Vorschläge für eine dynamische Governanceanalyse. Governance-Forschung. Vergewisserung über Stand und Entwicklungslinien. G. F. Schuppert. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft: 346-370.
Rip, A. and R. Kemp (1998). Technological change. Human choice and climate change. S. Rayner and E. L. Malone. Columbus, Ohio, Battelle Press. 2: 327-399.