Learning spaces in multi-stakeholder initiatives: The German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles as a platform for dialogue and learning?

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Learning in collaborative governance is often recognized as an important component for sustainability transformation, but is mainly seen as a side-effect alongside governance outcomes. However, bringing together heterogeneous perspectives is crucial to fully capture the wicked sustainability challenges. We know very little about how learning is facilitated in collaborative governance. This empirical article assesses a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) and examines the extent to which it provides spaces for learning. It proposes an analytical framework for investigating social learning spaces along three prerequisites: diversity of member organizations, structure and quality of interactions. A qualitative and quantitative social network analysis (SNA) indicates that the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (Textiles Partnership) has a large number of heterogeneous members, which holds great potential for learning. However, due to deliberative-democratic structures and the prioritisation of governance outcomes it closes down spaces for learning for the wide diversity of members. The article argues for the design of spaces for learning by emphasising that diversity of perceptions is crucial for a better understanding of the wicked sustainability challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100113
JournalEarth System Governance
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 09.2021

    Research areas

  • Collaborative governance, Multi-stakeholder governance, Social network analysis, Deliberative democracy, Corporate social responsibility, Sustainability transformations
  • Environmental Governance