World Café Day Two: Mobilizing Knowledge and Creating Capacity in Partnerships

Speakers: Felix Beyers, Florian Markscheffel, Taiwo Isaac Olatunji, Marianne Grace Araneta, Irmelin Gram-Hanssen
Political Challenges of a Textile Transformation
Felix Beyers
Collaborative governance is a promising approach to address wicked sustainability challenges through global public and private partnerships between diverse actors of state, market and civil society. The textile industry is an excellent example where a variety of such initiatives have evolved. The question arises whether collaborative governance actually leads to transformation, also because the sector still faces various challenges such as the violation of workers’ rights, or emissions from logistics that contribute significantly to climate change. In this dissertation, I question whether and how collaborative governance in the textile sector provides space for, or pathways to, sustainability transformation. I use a mixed-methods approach towards transformative research. First, I conduct a systematic literature review on governance partnerships before diving into a critical case study on an interactive collaborative governance initiative, the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (hereafter: Textiles Partnership). In two empirical articles, I explore learning spaces in the partnership and create a reflection space in which governance actors can navigate the complex governance landscape. I find that the partnership provides space for actors to negotiate their diverse interests, values and worldviews, which is a crucial contribution to social learning and interaction for transformation. However, private governance structures and the unharmonized nature of initiatives hinder practical transformation. In line with scholars engaged in the discourse of structure versus agency, I will discuss the role of the individual in collaborative governance for transformation.
Construction of anti-transformational narratives in organisations
Florian Markscheffel
German administrations are often associated with stories of kafkaesque bureaucracy. Some could also be found in my case study, in which i conducted 24 interviews in an german city administration. I used narrative interviews as a method to collect stories, which allow conclusions to be drawn about the collective interpretations and culture in the organisation. The administration is in a change process, reacting to internal and external pressure. They tried to implement different measures, targeting personnel development and leadership, but experienced strong resistance from some employees. I analyzed how this resistance is shaped by and grounded in organisational narratives. Drawing on the theoretical frame of social constructionism and structuration, the study shows that the narratives are constantly re-produced through everyday action – narratives guide action, but are not determinative. There are employees who experiment with alternative narratives, form a vision and force transformation. But these niches are under constant pressure by the rules and structure of the established culture. The poster should shortly show the case study, and then focuse on the described findings as a contribution to the understanding of the challenges which are faced by intentional transformation processes. To make a transformation successful and – this can’t be stressed enough – lasting, the narratives of the respective field, institution or organisation have to be acknowledged and adressed. The narratives have a strong path dependency, and it appears that a lot of change processes end up as old wine in new bottles, thus leading the intended transformation ad absurdum. The Multi-Level-Perspective as a popular framework contains traces of the narratives, but it is argued that the framework is not sufficient. As a starting point for discussion, I would like to propose the idea of a rhizomatic approach, understanding narratives as a manifestation of an underlying informal and abstract structure.

Creating transformation communities across cultures: Lessons from two intercultural studies
Taiwo Isaac Olatunji, Marianne Grace Araneta

Intercultural contacts and interactions, in the form of migration or virtual meetings, offer unique opportunities that catalyse transformations. Exploring transformations in this context is especially important given the current phenomena of mass migration, globalisation, and digital expansion. This oral presentation describes two doctoral studies that share similarities apropos their focus on perspective transformation and intercultural settings. We will identify emerging findings and lessons from the studies and examine their implications for building “transformative people” in global or transnational settings. Taiwo, a third-year PhD student, is conducting research on how cross-cultural experiences result in perspective transformation among immigrants. Hinged on the transformative learning theory, the study is a holistic multiple-case mixed-methods narrative inquiry that focuses on Nigerian immigrants in Italy and the United States. Ongoing analyses of the immigrants’ narratives and their responses to a questionnaire (Transformative Learning Survey) show that through the processes and outcomes of transformative learning, immigrants not only experience individual change but also are equipped for social change. Marianne is a second-year PhD student doing research on the sustainability of technology-enhanced learning, particularly virtual exchange. With activity theory as an analytical framework, this embedded, multiple-case mixed-methods study investigates the sustainability of two types of virtual exchange: dialogue-based and comparative. It will explore if and how they embody critical pedagogy and their potential for perspective transformation by engaging learners in multicultural interaction. Using the shared experience of two PhD students engaging in research on pedagogies grounded in perspective transformation and diversity, this presentation will not only be a means to discuss methodologies and emerging findings from intercultural studies, but also to share their personal perspectives as migrant researchers. Insights from the presentation will contribute to the development of transformation theory and practice in intercultural contexts. There will be a brief oral presentation before the discussion and interactive sessions.

Potentiality and responsibility: tenets of a deep relational ontology and implications for transformations research and practice
Irmelin Gram-Hanssen

Social-environmental problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss are increasingly being understood as relational problems: problems that arise through how interpersonal and human-nonhuman relations are performed and cared for. Within sustainability science and transformations research, this has resulted in a growing interest in how relational theorizing and perspectives can inform the theory and practice of transformations toward sustainability. Yet how should we understand the nature of relations? The insights gained through taking a relational perspective will depend upon the ontology informing said perspective. In this presentation, I engage with Indigenous and posthumanist thinking on relations and relationality, arguing that these ontologies posit a deep relationality that not only allows for our inquiries to give ontological primacy to relations rather than entities but that also centers these inquires on the quality of relations. While distinct on several accounts, I engage with both Indigenous and posthumanist scholarship to bring forth the sense of potentiality and responsibility inherent in a deep relationality – our potential to perform relations differently, and our responsibility to do so. A deep relationality thereby has implications well beyond the theory of transformation and brings to the forefront the importance of how each of us engage with change and how we show up in collaborations with others.