International Institute for Innovation in Governance



Partnerships for development in the extractive sector

Partnerships for Development (PfD) is the antidote that extractive industries have used over the last decade to counteract the proliferation of conflicts with local communities. Normatively, the concept of ‘partnership’ positions companies as actors on an equal footing with others in their attempts to collaborate to achieve development outcomes. This article analyses how the PfD strategy has been crafted and implemented in the extractive sector and assess its potential to contribute significantly to local development. Using the Foucauldian framework on power/knowledge and genealogy, we explain how, in a relatively short time, the interaction between context, preexisting discourses, and actors’ interests shaped the PfD discourse and made it famous. The second part of the paper goes beyond the normative conceptualisation and analyses the implementation of PfD through the case studies of the Antamina copper mine in Peru and the Pacific Rubiales oil operation in Colombia. The companies use the PfD discourse to advance their interest vis-à-vis the different stakeholders, minimising the risk of conflicts and cultivating their reputation. These companies resort to the fragmentation of bargaining spaces and rely on the legitimacy provided by paid experts. The result is that PfD has limited capacity to promote local sustainable development.

This paper is part of a forthcoming special issue in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning on power/knowledge in natural resource management

Arellano-Yanguas J. & del Pilar Bernal-Gómez, M. (2017) Partnerships for development in the extractive sector: protecting subterranean interests? Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning.

Evolutionary theory of social enterprise

Social Entrepreneurship has developed in different ways across Europe. These studies present a novel perspective on social entrepreneurship which explains these differences, taking into account the history and trends of Social Entrepreneurship, the different operational and organisational forms, the role of communities, cultures and tradition, the role of social innovation, the role of the dialogue between the State and Citizens on Social Inclusion and how social entrepreneurship and institutions co-evolved during time.

Download the reports from the Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship project here:



Discourses on sustainable forest management

This study analyzed discourses influencing the meaning of Sustainable Forest Management in Catalonia (Spain) and the effects of the European Natura 2000 policy on these discourses. It focused on the Montseny area and on the Administration and Practitioner stakeholder groups. Based on literature review and interviews, we found six discourses influencing the meanings of Sustainable Forest Management. Two of these discourses underwent changes due to the effects of Natura 2000 implementation while the others did not, showing the substantial role played by local elements and actors in shaping the discursive framework of Sustainable Forest Management. Based on empirical findings, the study provided conclusions valid at European level: (1) implementing Natura 2000 does not mean revolutionizing local nature conservation systems, but rather adapting them to European requirements; (2) in order to increase local policy impact, the implementation of European environmental policies needs to be backed up by economic compensation of local actors.

Ferranti, F., Vericat, P. de Koning, J. (2017) Discourses on sustainable forest management and effects of Natura 2000: a case study of Catalonia, NE Spain. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.


Performing and orchestrating governance learning for systemic transformation in practice for climate change adaptation

Barriers to climate change adaptation might not lie so much in ‘gaps’ in scientific or technical understandings but rather in the complexities of social, institutional and cultural transitions in climate change governance. Effective responses to complex environmental issues seem to require ‘co-learning for systemic governance transformations’. However, this process remains poorly understood. This article analyses the performance and orchestration of governance learning for systemic transformation in practice, drawing on examples from the international climate change adaptation and water governance (CADWAGO) project. We show that in these examples the interplay of ‘separating’ and ‘connecting’ is central to transforming governance in the European water management landscape. The article concludes that an orientation to boundary work and co-production of knowledge contributes to scientific narratives that can inspire meaningful connective action and move complex socioecological systems into a more sustainable trajectory.

van Bommel, S., Blackmore, C., Foster, N., & de Vries, J. (2016). Performing and orchestrating governance learning for systemic transformation in practice for climate change adaptation. Outlook on Agriculture, 45(4), 231-237.

Assessing participatory and multi-level characteristics of biodiversity and landscape protection legislation: the case of Poland

This paper presents a comprehensive framework for analysing formal rules regulating the involvement of various actors in protected areas decision-making over time and apply it to Poland. Based on the analysis of legal acts and policy documents, it suggests that since the democratic transition started in 1989, the governance of Polish protected areas has been increasingly multi-level and participatory. However, different designations indicate different levels of involvement by non-state actors, with Natura 2000 standing out from the traditional protected areas. Regarding governance issues, establishing and taking management decisions were characterised by the greatest changes in actors’ involvement. While participation of non-public actors is still limited mostly to information and consultation, the involvement of non-state public actors of various levels increased significantly. The paper highlights the importance of a systematic analysis of legal rules as a starting point for empirical investigation of the governance of protected areas.

Niedziałkowski, K., Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska, A., Pietruczuk, M., & Grodzińska-Jurczak, M. (2015). Assessing participatory and multi-level characteristics of biodiversity and landscape protection legislation: the case of Poland. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 1-21.



Practising environmental policy evaluation under co-existing evaluation imaginaries

This article examines what the co-existence of different evaluation imaginaries – understandings of what environmental policy evaluation ‘is’ and ‘should do’ – means for everyday evaluation practice. We present a case study in which we show how these different understandings influence the evaluation process as they are mobilized interchangeably. Though co-existing evaluation imaginaries broaden the repertoire and potential for innovation, practitioners also experience tensions as innovative ambitions conflict with institutionalized practices. We hypothesize that practitioners deal with these inconsistencies by decoupling approaches, intentions and outcomes from each other. In this way, innovation occurs in parts of the evaluation process while other parts follow a more traditional approach. For evaluation theory we argue the need to further explore how decoupling enables practitioners to deal with co-existing imaginaries. For evaluation practice we stress that articulation of societal expectations is indispensable to ensure the legitimacy of policy evaluation.

Kunseler, E. M., & Vasileiadou, E. (2016). Practising environmental policy evaluation under co-existing evaluation imaginaries. Evaluation, 22(4), 451-469.

Symposium on learning and innovation in resilient systems

Resilience has become a fashionable buzzword in recent years. The term is frequently found in many different discourses ranging from nature conservation (WWF’s adaptation and resilience program), sports psychology (teaching athletes about resilience), to development work (resilience in rural areas). It appears that everything (cities, companies, software) and everybody (managers, children, teachers) can and should be resilient. With our current knowledge of future challenges like climate change, globalisation and food security resilience can offer a way to develop strategies to cope with uncertainties.

The Dutch Open University organises a 2-days symposium on learning and innovations in resilient systems, on 23rd and 24th March 2017, in Heerlen, the Netherlands. The symposium offers an unique opportunity to discuss these topics, in an interdisciplinary environment. Focusing on (i) information and computer systems, (ii) organizational and management systems, and (iii) environmental systems.

We invite scientists from all disciplines to debate how and to what extent innovations and learning processes in various systems contribute to the transition towards (more) resilient systems, be it individuals, organisations, et cetera. We welcome theoretical papers, methodological papers, and empirical studies or combinations thereof; and invite abstracts that discuss and examine innovations and learning for resilience from various angles.

We are delighted that we can announce the following keynote speakers that will contribute to the symposium:

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Carl Folke, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Petra de Weerd-Nederhof, University of Twente
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Yasmin Merali, University of Hull
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Bart Jacobs, Radboud University Nijmegen

Practicalities and submission deadlines:

Interested participants/authors are encouraged to submit 250 word abstracts by 15th October 2016 as a first step towards full paper development. Please send your abstract to

Authors will be notified of acceptance/rejection by 15th December 2016; contributing authors are expected to submit a full first draft of their paper by 1st February 2017.

Finally, more information can be found on our website:

Managing ups and downs in communities

Boom and Bust: A guide for managing ups and downs in communities is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs which too often characterize western Canadian communities. It offers community leaders, politicians, administrators, academics, students, and all active citizens helpful techniques to analyze the current state of their own community, understand how it got where it is today, and ultimately, identify possible ways forward. We encourage analysis of historical paths and policy contexts to better understand what strategies might work (or not) in a community.

The authors encourage readers to learn from local histories, a broad range of tested theories, and the experiences of other communities to develop a context-sensitive strategy of asset building, while at the same time taking on an informed understanding of what assets and resources could support long-term development planning for their communities. They demonstrate that assets become such within a context and within a narrative, forming a story about the past, present, and future of the community.

By showing the importance of reinvention and the dangers of rigid identity, the authors call on communities to re-evaluate their assets and their dependencies, and ultimately to reintroduce long-term perspectives within governance.
By acknowledging the difficulty of local control over local development in a global economy, the guide offers strategies to broaden perspectives and inspire local action, as well as to harness the power of informal relations, latent stories, silent assets, and diverse local identities to cultivate more varied and prosperous futures.

Read more about the book at the website of the University of Alberta or read the free online version of the guide via ISSUU.

Transforming energy systems by transforming power relations

Energy transitions bring about changes in the infrastructural energy system and in the social sphere. Crucially, these changes touch upon power relations. Thus, studying the social order through the perspective of the energy system should include an understanding of “power”. Dispositive thinking and governmentality studies are two promising approaches for conceptualizing power relations. Whereas dispositive thinking is important for understanding powerful and strategic socio-material configurations, the concept of governmentality provides a framework for the analysis of how and why individuals adopt certain subject positions in the face of technologies of power. The value of the two approaches is illustrated with an empirical case study from the German Energiewende: renewable energy development in north-western Brandenburg. The paper concludes by comparing the relative strengths and weaknesses of dispositive thinking and governmentality studies and by discussing how further research on the role of power in energy systems can be conceptualized.

Gailing, L. (2016). Transforming energy systems by transforming power relations. Insights from dispositive thinking and governmentality studies. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 1-19.

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