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Learning in a changing climate : examining trans-municipal learning processes for sustainable urban planning

Tannhof, Tim LU (2015) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20151
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Learning partnerships are becoming increasingly common for municipalities to fulfill their roles as important actors in adaptive governance regimes for sustainability. However, there is little theoretical guidance for municipalities, endangering the effectiveness of partnerships. The Ball-Bearing Framework used in this thesis is one of the first attempts to understand inter-municipal partnerships, but lacks wider application and theoretical grounding. Simultaneously, transdisciplinarity has emerged as a valuable research approach to provide socially robust knowledge for the solution of complex, societal problems. These two trends have resulted in an increasing need to understand trans-municipal partnerships. Taking a critical realist... (More)
Learning partnerships are becoming increasingly common for municipalities to fulfill their roles as important actors in adaptive governance regimes for sustainability. However, there is little theoretical guidance for municipalities, endangering the effectiveness of partnerships. The Ball-Bearing Framework used in this thesis is one of the first attempts to understand inter-municipal partnerships, but lacks wider application and theoretical grounding. Simultaneously, transdisciplinarity has emerged as a valuable research approach to provide socially robust knowledge for the solution of complex, societal problems. These two trends have resulted in an increasing need to understand trans-municipal partnerships. Taking a critical realist perspective, I therefore aim to improve the understanding of the generative mechanisms of successful trans-municipal learning. I do so by applying the Ball-Bearing Framework as well as the Lang et al. (2012) framework for transdisciplinary research processes on the trans-municipal learning partnership “Urban Transition Öresund”, and then integrating the two frameworks theoretically and empirically, following a mixed methods approach. Thus, my research contributes to the problem-solving aspect of sustainability science, to further the transition towards a sustainable society.

My findings show a strong overlap between the two concepts by enhancing each other and forming a more complete picture of trans-municipal partnerships. Especially the Mutuality, Valuation and Reframing / Transformation components of the Ball-Bearing Framework show strong, internal as well as interconnected, logical relationships that can be described with the Lang et al. (2012) framework. I argue that a clear methodological framework is highly important to achieve mutuality, valuation and reframing. Researchers can strongly contribute to reframing activities, but need to be integrated properly in the project structure. An unclear definition of roles and the subsequent wrong expectations as well as a lack of structures are the biggest hurdles to an effective trans-municipal cooperation. It is not only a challenge to integrate academia and practice but also various academic disciplines and different research paradigms, making it difficult to establish clear roles. In large, mixed research teams, inherent conflicts of interest make a mutual, transdisciplinary partnership challenging but ever more necessary to ensure valuation from all parties. With practice often still having a science-advice expectation, reframing needs to be clearly articulated as a project aim to avoid expectancy dissonances. Lastly, there is a conflict between the informal nature of reframing exercises and the necessity to produce formal outcomes for external dissemination. I conclude that these connections can be seen as generative mechanisms for successful trans-municipal learning. (Less)
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author
Tannhof, Tim LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
urban transition, municipal learning, sustainability science, transdisciplinarity, Ball-Bearing Framework
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2015:025
funder
Friedrich Ebert Foundation
language
English
id
5470889
date added to LUP
2015-06-17 15:59:53
date last changed
2015-06-18 14:04:26
@misc{5470889,
  abstract     = {Learning partnerships are becoming increasingly common for municipalities to fulfill their roles as important actors in adaptive governance regimes for sustainability. However, there is little theoretical guidance for municipalities, endangering the effectiveness of partnerships. The Ball-Bearing Framework used in this thesis is one of the first attempts to understand inter-municipal partnerships, but lacks wider application and theoretical grounding. Simultaneously, transdisciplinarity has emerged as a valuable research approach to provide socially robust knowledge for the solution of complex, societal problems. These two trends have resulted in an increasing need to understand trans-municipal partnerships. Taking a critical realist perspective, I therefore aim to improve the understanding of the generative mechanisms of successful trans-municipal learning. I do so by applying the Ball-Bearing Framework as well as the Lang et al. (2012) framework for transdisciplinary research processes on the trans-municipal learning partnership “Urban Transition Öresund”, and then integrating the two frameworks theoretically and empirically, following a mixed methods approach. Thus, my research contributes to the problem-solving aspect of sustainability science, to further the transition towards a sustainable society.

My findings show a strong overlap between the two concepts by enhancing each other and forming a more complete picture of trans-municipal partnerships. Especially the Mutuality, Valuation and Reframing / Transformation components of the Ball-Bearing Framework show strong, internal as well as interconnected, logical relationships that can be described with the Lang et al. (2012) framework. I argue that a clear methodological framework is highly important to achieve mutuality, valuation and reframing. Researchers can strongly contribute to reframing activities, but need to be integrated properly in the project structure. An unclear definition of roles and the subsequent wrong expectations as well as a lack of structures are the biggest hurdles to an effective trans-municipal cooperation. It is not only a challenge to integrate academia and practice but also various academic disciplines and different research paradigms, making it difficult to establish clear roles. In large, mixed research teams, inherent conflicts of interest make a mutual, transdisciplinary partnership challenging but ever more necessary to ensure valuation from all parties. With practice often still having a science-advice expectation, reframing needs to be clearly articulated as a project aim to avoid expectancy dissonances. Lastly, there is a conflict between the informal nature of reframing exercises and the necessity to produce formal outcomes for external dissemination. I conclude that these connections can be seen as generative mechanisms for successful trans-municipal learning.},
  author       = {Tannhof, Tim},
  keyword      = {urban transition,municipal learning,sustainability science,transdisciplinarity,Ball-Bearing Framework},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Learning in a changing climate : examining trans-municipal learning processes for sustainable urban planning},
  year         = {2015},
}