The value of theoretical multiplicity for steering transitions towards sustainability

A. Dewulf, C.J.A.M. Termeer, W.D. Pot, R.A. Werkman, G.E. Breeman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Transition management, as a theory of directing structural societal changes towards sustainable system innovations, has become a major topic in scientific research over the last years. In this paper we focus on the question how transitions towards sustainability can be steered, governed or managed, in particular by governmental actors. We suggest an approach of theoretical multiplicity, arguing that multiple theories will be needed simultaneously for dealing with the complex societal sustainability issues. Therefore, we address the steering question by theoretically comparing transition management theory to a number of related theories on societal change and intervention, such as multi-actor collaboration, network governance, configuration management, policy agenda setting, and adaptive management. We conclude that these related theories put the managerial assumptions of transition management into perspective, by adding other steering roles and leadership mechanisms to the picture. Finally we argue that new modes of steering inevitable have consequences for the actual governance institutions. New ways of governing change ask for change within governance systems itself and vice versa. Our argument for theoretical multiplicity implicates the development of multiple, potentially conflicting, governance capacities
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventKSI International Conference 2009 -
Duration: 4 Jun 20096 Jun 2009


ConferenceKSI International Conference 2009

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