Adaptive parts for an adaptive whole : what is it about change-agents that makes them adaptive?
Sammanfattning: The transformational mode of sustainability science is concerned with generating actionable knowledge and practical solutions to complex sustainability challenges in order to facilitate a transition towards sustainability by strategizing transformational pathways. However, some scholars in the field believe that sustainability science lacks such capacity, since so far greater focus has been put on describing and analyzing complex coupled human-environment systems rather than producing practical solutions to transform them. In some successful cases in resilience literature, it has been demonstrated that key individual change-agents may play important leadership roles in building resilience and adaptive management in the system in which they operate. Thus, this thesis mainly promotes that studies which focus on change-agents and leadership should be more extensively included in the sustainability science research agenda in respect to the transformational mode of sustainability science. Given the significance of change-agents for building adaptive management systems through the establishment of key actor networks, this study attempts to explicate the relationship between the adaptive capacity of management systems and that of change-agents. For such explication, first, logical and theoretical linkages between the leadership practices of key individuals in adaptive management systems and social entrepreneurs in social innovation systems are built. This is done by considering both actor groups as change-agents involving themselves in the process of bricolage, which refers to recombining available resources for systemic transformation and institutional innovation. Secondly, this thesis explores the adaptive capacity of change-agents in relation to their engagement, as innovators, through the innovative processes of bricolage. To explore this issue, seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with social entrepreneur change-agents in Istanbul, Turkey, and qualitative analysis was further employed to analyze the data. Results from this study illustrate that change-agents meta-cognitive capacity of Personal Epistemological Beliefs (PEBs) influence the quality of their observation skills in the system, as well as their flexible learning processes. Moreover, the capacities for suspension and redirection are identified as two underlying capacities that enhance the quality of change-agents’ observational skills. These observation skills and related capacities lead me to recognize change-agents’ capability for presencing, that is presented as a capacity of learning from the future as it emerges. All together, these capacities are considered as the significant components of change-agents’ adaptive capacity.
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