Social learning inside and outside transition projects: Playing free jazz for a heavy metal audience

P.J. Beers, F. Hermans, T. Veldkamp, J. Hinssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


According to transition science, system innovation requires experimentation and social learning to explore the potential of innovations for sustainable development. However, the transition science literature does not elaborate much on the learning processes involved. Senge's Field of Change provides a more detailed approach to the role of learning and action in innovation. We linked the Field of Change to transition management literature in order to explore social learning in an agricultural innovation experiment in the Netherlands called the ‘New Mixed Farm’. Our findings show that the project partners focussed primarily on the level of action and did not learn about (the values prevalent in) their environment. Our analysis suggests that social learning about a project's environment should be organised specifically to avert the risk of a project ignoring its environment. Furthermore, the relevance of social learning in relation to societal context is shown: an innovation experiment that does not or cannot learn about its environment is unable to respond to mounting societal pressures and therefore prone to failure. Finally, the results show that the Field of Change can be related to transition theory in order to provide a more detailed approach to learning in system innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • sustainable development
  • management
  • systems

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