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IFKAD 2017 Special Tracks
Organizational learning for the common good: an emerging approach to sustainability and resilience
Today, the label "commons" indicates a wide group of eco-socio-technical environments providing common resources that are available for collective use, but also need protection and/or (re)generation through the educated, cooperative behavior of the users. Examples may include a marine area's biodiversity, a tourism destination's local traditions, an industrial district's social capital or Wikipedia's contents. The key characteristic of a commons is that it is fragile to the so-called tragedy of the commons. In fact, since it is impossible to develop and protect the commons (and the resources they provide) through traditional self-interest mechanisms, property rights and contracts, the commons tend to be particularly fragile to opportunistic over-exploitation, carelessness and/or ignorance of the wider picture.
Fortunately, communities and organizations can collaboratively develop the capability to protect and (re)generate these eco-socio-technical systems for the common good. In particular, new network forms that integrate communities, businesses, research institutions and/or government bodies through bridging organizations seem particularly promising to address the emerging sustainability and resilience challenges of our era. On the other hand, these new organizational forms may encounter major difficulties in managing their key intangibles (knowledge, social relationships, rules and values, options) in order to keep the commons viable. When a commons is at stake, the co-evolution of adaptive learning processes throughout the stakeholder network is particularly critical. These learning processes have different dynamics than in traditional organizations and entrepreneurial initiatives; in addition, the scenario influencing the commons continuously changes, for example due to technological innovations, and the commons themselves are often open, complex and instable systems that evolve unpredictably (Walker et al., 2004). Therefore, we need to take the learning capabilities of the communities and organizations that impact the commons to the next level. There are several approaches that provide promising standpoints to address these issues, such as adaptive management (Cantino et al., forthcoming) (Berkes, 2009), epistemic communities (Mai'a K., 2013), meta-organizations (Gulati et al., 2012), self-organizing networks (Fjeldstad et al., 2012), institutional entrepreneurship / institutional work (Brouwer and Biermann, 2011), sustainability transitions (Geels, 2010)(Brown et al., 2013), service systems (Vargo et al., 2008), paradoxical management (Smith and Lewis, 2011), etc.
This track welcomes theoretical and empirical studies, including case studies, focusing on the learning challenges posed by the pursue of the common good, and particularly on how the knowledge dynamics around the commons intertwine with new forms of organizing, new forms of monitoring, business model innovations and the institutional environment. The systems that we encourage to study through this lens include (but are not limited to) natural ecosystems, tourism destinations, collaborative business networks, science & technology parks, collaborative digital platforms, urban and rural common areas or facilities, ethical finance systems, charity systems, smart cities.
Commons, tragedy of the commons, adaptive learning, system resilience, eco-socio-technical systems, adaptive co-management, network organizations, policy networks, sustainability, community participation, feedback-driven management, stakeholder involvement, multi-disciplinary action research
Valter Cantino | University of Turin, Italy
Cecilia Rossignoli | University of Verona, Italy
Francesca Ricciardi | University of Verona, Italy