ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Initiating deliberation: participatory analysis of the implications of institutional change for the prospects of industrial recycling

Jarkko Levänen

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 11 - Law Building, Room 107
Date: 2012-07-10 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-05-14


Planning and management of industrial recycling systems at different scales in the changing institutional context requires successful knowledge management and integration between the stakeholders. To better understand the functioning of deliberative processes between the stakeholders, we must consider the role of feedback dynamics between formal institutional level and the specific socio-cognitive systems at the operational level. Even though this concern has lately been identified in particular theories, still the practical diagnoses of the issue remain small in number. In the successful adaptation to the institutional change it is crucial that actors are aware of, and capable to support different and simultaneously affecting modes of activities in their operational environment. This paper illuminates fundamentally different ways how different stakeholders of industrial network interpret the situation of institutional change and presents a way to further elaborate those divergent interpretations through an informal deliberative process that was purposefully initiated around the topic.

The aim of the paper is to investigate the implications of EU's Waste framework directive (2008/98/EC) and the changing national waste legislation on industrial recycling and material efficiency by means of a regional case-study, located around the Bothnian arc, in northern Finland. Paper describes a deliberative research process in which well reasoned feedback claims from informal institutional setting into formal one was formulated. The research was conducted in three stages. At first thematic interviews were carried out with the key stakeholders of the industrial network (i. e. representatives of different industries, administration, interest groups and NGOs) and the collected interview data was decomposed into three mental models describing the reasoning of those different stakeholder groups. After that the elements of mental models was recomposed into research hypotheses in a brainstorming session with researchers from different fields. Finally research hypotheses were tested and challenged in a collaborative workshop discussions between previously interviewed stakeholders and researchers. On the basis of those discussions final feedback claims were formulated. It was interesting to follow how the ideas evolved and specified during the process when those were enriched by notions from the dialogue between researchers and stakeholders of the system. Paper argues that new legislation may strengthen environmentally friendly actions within industrial network only if its implementation is based on shared view of the future of the system.