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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences - Resource Economics

Analytical themes

Analytical themes

New Archetypes of Cooperation

Archetype analysis is a nascent approach to comparative research that is increasingly used in interdisciplinary sustainability studies. The approach is particularly suitable for identifying generalizable patterns, where general regularities that apply to all cases cannot be expected. It identifies a suite of archetypes that re-appear in multiple but not necessarily all cases. Like building-blocks, archetypes of cooperation can be combined in different ways to explain individual instances of cooperation. Each archetype is characterized by: (i) a configuration of attributes; (ii) the set of empirical cases where it can be observed; (iii) a theoretical building-block that provides an explanation. We contribute to improving archetype analysis methodologically, and apply it to study new archetypes of cooperation of non-national government actors on global challenges.

Governing Path Dependence

A single wing beat of a butterfly can change the weather, as has been suggested by chaos theory. Is it then also possible that a swarm of human beings or organizations can effectively deal with global challenges like climate change? Can they resolve societal lock-in or generate new self-enforcing dynamics? When there is path dependence, for example caused by network externalities or economies of scale, slight changes in initial conditions or parameters can lead a system’s evolution to different long-term equilibria. Then, governing path dependence is the systematic study of strategies that purposefully or unintentionally sustain, create or resolve the conditions that lead to path dependence.

Games and Barriers to Change

We are looking back to decades were pressing sustainability problems are already well-known. Textbooks are full with policy instruments that, if introduced, would solve those problems effectively and possibly even in an efficient and just way. Yet, many of the most severe environmental problems have not sufficiently been resolved. Some call this an implementation deficit. Instead of only complaining that the solutions are not implemented, we explicitly research political barriers to implementation and strategies to achieve effective environmental policy. Our methods are serious games (like KEEP COOL), game theory, and political economy approaches that put specific attention to the games that powerful actors like lobbyists or governments from different constituencies play to re-distribute rents or to achieve sustainable development.


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