Small wins for grand challenges. A bottom-up governance approach to regional innovation policy

In this paper, Bours, Wanzenböck, and Frenken, propose a small wins approach as a new governance strategy to deal with wicked societal problems.

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A small wins strategy focuses on accelerating bottom-up initiatives guided by a shared mission. The aim is to activate propelling mechanisms to support and couple self-organizing change processes. The authors studied 17 regional initiatives for plastic pollution removal in the Netherlands, which show that i. institutional barriers are the hardest for small wins to overcome and achieve wider impact; ii. bottom-up propelling mechanisms reinforce each other, but are generally too weak to transform existing practices due to limited policy support; and iii. systemic propelling mechanisms are largely absent to achieve robust change processes across scales. A key task for regional policy is to activate systemic mechanisms that help local solutions upscale. This requires policy to learn about the plurality of change processes ‘on the ground’, and to use multi-level governance arrangements to create coherent policies to scale up bottom-up solutions.

Read the full paper in European Planning Studies.

Published Feb. 17, 2022 1:37 PM - Last modified Feb. 17, 2022 1:41 PM