Doctoral thesis | Annica Kögler

Co-production in Transition Management: An approach for analyzing transformative outcomes

[Working Title]

The increasing pressure of the multiple social and ecological crises is giving rise to the mutli-disciplinary science strand that argues for an overall and radical structural change in the globally networked system of social organisation. In sustainability transition studies, transdisciplinary insights and experience with governance strategies and experiments at local, regional and national level is flourishing (Markard et al. 2012; Köhler et al. 2019, Truffer et al. 2022). The ongoing TRUST project, which brings together representatives from all sectors and interfaces of the city of Görlitz to work on various action fields of the climate neutrality agenda, is also based on an approach that emerged within this field: transition management (Rotmans et al. 2001, Loorbach 2009, Wittmayer et al. 2018). In this sense, the project is creating an alternative way of working (co-creation, co-design) that is intended to offer possibilities for an innovative network of knowledge exchange and collaboration that challenges previous logics of unsustainable lock-ins. 

Since established ways of working and organising tend to persist in themselves (Geels 2020, Kotilainen et al. 2019), the doctoral thesis is intended to contribute to a transition governance mode in which outcomes can be understood in a process-accompanying and stratetic manner. In transition management processes, decision-makers are asked to deploy resources without knowing the outcome of the process, to build up new capacities and to enter unknown waters that are necessary for transformative change. The future of their own identity is shaken in the process. The doctorate will also contribute to the development of a process-orientated strategy that encourages decision-makers to help shape this future.  

The work will build on existing intensive efforts to model transformative paths in the field. To complement these, the doctoral thesis focuses on scientific findings from policy and sustainability science discourses in which co-productive processes and the analysis of their outcomes are considered in depth (i. eg. Chambers et al. 2021, Chambers et al. 2022). It will be examined in what way it is beneficial for transition governance to transfer them into transition logic and practice. To this end, various ambitious concepts are compiled and empirically tested using the Transition Management case study of Görlitz.