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The role of organisational learning in climate policy development : a study of participatory vulnerability assessment project in Estonian local and regional governments

Vihma, Markus LU (2012) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20121
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Local and regional governments play a key role in responding to climate change. Climate change
vulnerability assessment is used to inform them about the possible risks and response options. It is
apparent that with those assessments there is a risk of ‘learning on paper’ as opposed to ‘learning in
use’. To move from one to another, the policy-makers have to understand climate change in relation
to their own understanding of hazard and governance. They can learn only in relation to what they
already know. To ensure that the local government does not lose its valuable knowledge when, for
example, someone leaves the collective, it is important that the new perspectives are picked up by
the whole organisation. It is possible for... (More)
Local and regional governments play a key role in responding to climate change. Climate change
vulnerability assessment is used to inform them about the possible risks and response options. It is
apparent that with those assessments there is a risk of ‘learning on paper’ as opposed to ‘learning in
use’. To move from one to another, the policy-makers have to understand climate change in relation
to their own understanding of hazard and governance. They can learn only in relation to what they
already know. To ensure that the local government does not lose its valuable knowledge when, for
example, someone leaves the collective, it is important that the new perspectives are picked up by
the whole organisation. It is possible for an organisation to learn if the necessary conditions have been met in, according to Denton, the strategic, structural and cultural dimensions. His description of conditions for organisational learning is also the theoretical framework in this study. If an
organisation itself does not undertake a learning process, it can be initiated by an external
cooperation project. The framework was used to analyse the work process and interviews that were
conducted with people who were involved with the project – two project leaders, two project
coordinators and eight participants from the local and regional level who were actually carrying out
the vulnerability assessment.

The results show that with such a project it is possible to create dynamics that make the local and
regional governments externally well aware of and cooperative with each other. A project is
moderately capable of offering a flexible structure and supportive and blame-free atmosphere but
less useful in providing a learning strategy with a shared vision. External initiation allowed the
creation of new knowledge but lack of instructions on how to make it accessible later inhibited its
dissemination. At the same time it is hard to surprise policy-makers with information that they did
not know before. Unless there is no truly revealing locally specific data, the emphasis on the climate
scenarios does not have to be huge as there are many more things that deserve attention if local
governments are expected to learn. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Vihma, Markus LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
policy, organisational learning, climate change, vulnerability assessment, local and regional governments, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2012:008
language
English
id
2856640
date added to LUP
2012-06-29 12:34:06
date last changed
2012-11-26 10:27:42
@misc{2856640,
  abstract     = {Local and regional governments play a key role in responding to climate change. Climate change 
vulnerability assessment is used to inform them about the possible risks and response options. It is 
apparent that with those assessments there is a risk of ‘learning on paper’ as opposed to ‘learning in 
use’. To move from one to another, the policy-makers have to understand climate change in relation 
to their own understanding of hazard and governance. They can learn only in relation to what they 
already know. To ensure that the local government does not lose its valuable knowledge when, for 
example, someone leaves the collective, it is important that the new perspectives are picked up by 
the whole organisation. It is possible for an organisation to learn if the necessary conditions have been met in, according to Denton, the strategic, structural and cultural dimensions. His description of conditions for organisational learning is also the theoretical framework in this study. If an 
organisation itself does not undertake a learning process, it can be initiated by an external 
cooperation project. The framework was used to analyse the work process and interviews that were 
conducted with people who were involved with the project – two project leaders, two project 
coordinators and eight participants from the local and regional level who were actually carrying out 
the vulnerability assessment. 

The results show that with such a project it is possible to create dynamics that make the local and 
regional governments externally well aware of and cooperative with each other. A project is 
moderately capable of offering a flexible structure and supportive and blame-free atmosphere but 
less useful in providing a learning strategy with a shared vision. External initiation allowed the 
creation of new knowledge but lack of instructions on how to make it accessible later inhibited its 
dissemination. At the same time it is hard to surprise policy-makers with information that they did 
not know before. Unless there is no truly revealing locally specific data, the emphasis on the climate 
scenarios does not have to be huge as there are many more things that deserve attention if local 
governments are expected to learn.},
  author       = {Vihma, Markus},
  keyword      = {policy,organisational learning,climate change,vulnerability assessment,local and regional governments,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {The role of organisational learning in climate policy development : a study of participatory vulnerability assessment project in Estonian local and regional governments},
  year         = {2012},
}