Organizing transitions through intersectoral partnerships for sustainable development
01 / 2006 - unknown
In order to understand the ways in which transitions can be organized, it is of crucial importance to further study the potential of intersectoral partnerships as principal agents contributing to sustainable system innovations and transitions. We will conceptualize these partnerships as temporary organizations (Lundin & Søderholm 1995). Temporary organizations are founded for a certain period of time, for a specific purpose, and with a set of clearly defined goals, even when these goals are explicitly normative and refer to essentially contested concepts (such as, e.g., sustainable development ). The dynamics of these organizations are poorly understood in the current literature. Yet, their presence is ever-increasing in the development of sustainable practices. Firms are more and more requested to deliver value by taking into account environmental, social, and economic benefits the so-called triple bottom line. Ecologists have argued that it is unlikely for individual firms to become sustainable, because they lack the scale to really preserve the biosphere (Jennings & Zandbergen 1995). The complexity with which the sustainability issue deals is beyond the scope of any single organization. The institutional environment in which firms are embedded, for example, exerts strong pressures on organizations to conform to the prevailing logic. In order to establish profound institutional change (Scott et al. 2000), such as the transition towards a more sustainable society, broad coalitions reflecting the collective action of multiple parties are needed. The dynamics of the institutional environment are largely determined by market, innovation, and political processes, and under the influence of these processes they require a strong mechanism of governance to keep the partnerships focused on sustainability and transition. Hence in this project we will study the intersectoral partnership as a potential governance structure contributing to the transition towards a more sustainable society. 2.1 Goal/aim/mission The main goal of this project is to explore more systematically what the role and contribution of intersectoral partnerships, as a specific type of governance structure, is or can be for sustainable development, with emphasis on the interactions and interferences between such partnerships, regime change, and exogeneous developments at the landscape level. Furthermore, we try to integrate two distinct bodies of literature (transition management and institutional theory, see 2.2) to enhance our understanding of the intricacies of transitional complexity.