International Institute for Innovation in Governance



The role of institutional and stakeholder networks in shaping social enterprise ecosystems

This paper draws upon prior research that built a theoretical framework for the emergence of social enterprise ecosystems based upon biological evolutionary theory. It seeks to extend this previous research by practically applying the theory to the development of stakeholder and institutional networks across Europe. Data from in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups were analysed using Constant Comparison Method. Data were generated from discussions with 258 key stakeholders in 10 countries across Europe, exploring the historical, political, social, legal and economic factors that influence the patterns of social enterprise seen in each country. The results identify the emergence of four social enterprise ecosystem types (Statist-macro; Statist-micro; Private-macro; Private-micro). These are used to explain the differences found in each of the 10 country’s social enterprise ecosystems. The results are discussed in relation to evolutionary theory in social entrepreneurship and how ‘genetic’ and ‘epigenetic’ factors lead to the divergence of social enterprise ecosystems, and the impact that this has on the stakeholders and institutions that are present within.

Hazenberg, R., Bajwa-Patel, M., Mazzei, M., Roy, M.J. and Baglioni, S. (2016) The Role of Institutional and Stakeholder Networks in Shaping Social Enterprise Ecosystems in Europe. Social Enterprise Journal 12 (3)

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:

Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability

The notion of ‘transformations towards sustainability’ takes an increasingly central position in global sustainability research and policy discourse in recent years. Governance and politics are central to understanding and analysing transformations towards sustainability. However, despite receiving growing attention in recent years, the governance and politics aspects of transformations remain arguably under-developed in the global sustainability literature. A variety of conceptual approaches have been developed to understand and analyse societal transition or transformation processes, including: socio-technical transitions, social-ecological systems, sustainability pathways, and transformative adaptation. This paper critically surveys these four approaches, and reflects on them through the lens of the Earth System Governance framework (Biermann et al., 2009). This contributes to appreciating existing insights on transformations, and to identifying key research challenges and opportunities. Overall, the paper brings together diverse perspectives, that have so far remained largely fragmented, in order to strengthen the foundation for future research on transformations towards sustainability.

Patterson, J., Schulz, K., Vervoort, J., van der Hel, S., Widerberg, O., Adler, C., … & Barau, A. (2016). Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.

The hidden truth behind EU ‘green energy’

Readings in Planning Theory


The fourth edition of Readings in Planning Theory brings together the essential classic and cutting-edge readings in planning theory. It introduces and defines key debates in planning theory with editorial materials and readings selected both for their accessibility and importance The book is edited by Susan Fainstein and James DeFilippis.

This 4th edition is the best-available compendium and analysis of planning theory. Remarkably, the editors manage to retain many of the foundational readings while also producing a volume that is overwhelmingly grounded in new scholarship. This expands the canon to show how theory can be inspired and produced by practitioners and scholars engaged with far more than the United States and Europe” (Lawrence J. Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Part of book the are available via googlebooks

Innovation in local governance: towards an evolutionary model for understanding the possibilities and limitations of change

Raoul Beunen, Albert Aalvanger, Martijn Duineveld and Kristof Van Assche

During the IPA 2015 conference in Lille we presented a conceptual framework for understanding the evolution of local governance. Using this framework we reflect on the processes of changes in different places in the Netherlands and delineate a number of topics that have so far gained limited attention in the debates about innovation in local governance.
The attention of innovation in local governance has increased in the last years, with many actors, including national and local governments, civil society organizations, researchers, and individual citizens, advocating change. Although the motivations and assumption underlying their pleas can largely diverge, there is a strong consensus about the need to adapt institutional arrangements to fit the challenges of the 21th century. Many arguments focus on strengthening the legitimacy and inclusiveness of local governance, on improving the effectiveness of delivering public goods and services, or a combination of both. The search for new forms of local governance is given extra weight due to the budget cuts that many governments need to make. With less resources available these governments are forced to revise and delimit their role in public affairs and social welfare, something which might erode the possibilities and legitimacy of existing institutional arrangements.

Although the growing attention for innovation in local governance seems to be a recent phenomenon, we should not forget that governance has always been changing. Over time institutional frameworks need to be adjusted, to evolving internal and external conditions. One can think of the necessary adjustment of institutional frameworks to emerging societal issues or changing economic circumstances. The set of institutions designed to stabilize a community, will never perfectly fit internal and external environments at the same time, and its evolution will never be fully in sync with changes in the environment. Furthermore, even if the need to adjust institutions is observed by citizens and leadership, not every redesign is possible.

We use Evolutionary Governance Theory to understand the position and outcomes of recent attempts for innovation in local governance as part of a wider governance path. This helps delineating the possibilities and limitation for innovation. Drawing on a wide range of case studies in the Netherlands we explore how initiatives for innovation in local governance affect citizen’s and government’s views and motivations, their strategizing, their negotiations about shifting roles and responsibilities and the ways in which these are reflected in institutional frameworks.

Recent developments in local governance in the Netherlands show that the quest for novel forms of local governance might not always be successful. Pleas for novelty can in fact delimit or prevent real innovation and reduce the potential of civil society to pick up new tasks and responsibilities. Pushing for innovation can have negative consequences when it lacks a more substantial, contextualized perspective on problems and possible alternatives, and is merely looking for something new because it is new or if it is pushed by organisations whose role in the new arrangements will be limited. ​

New book: Theory and applications

EGTIIThis new book in the series on Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) presents empirical studies and theoretical reflections on the most important concepts and their interrelations. Through this book we learn how communities understand themselves and their environment. Authors from different disciplines develop the EGT framework further and apply it to a wide range of governance issues covering topics such as welfare state governance, networks of power, climate change, water governance, natural resource management etc. The contributors reflect on the possibilities and limitations of steering, intervention, management and development in a world continuously in flux.

The book bridges the gap between more fundamental and philosophical accounts of the social sciences and applied studies, offering theoretical advancement as well as practical recommendations.

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