Social Learning: Methods Matter but Facilitation and Supportive Context Are Key—Insights from Water Governance in Sweden
- How is SL in water governance currently understood?
- What can be observed from practical water governance in the Swedish case about
- SL in terms of trust, commitment, reframing and reflexivity, new knowledge, new relationships, and new activities; and
- Obstacles and enablers to SL in terms of participants, process design (including methods and facilitation), and context?
- What kinds of scientific conclusions and practical recommendations can be derived both from the cases themselves and water governance in general and from a wider context?
2.1. Swedish Water Management and Associated Participation
2.2. Participation in Water Governance in Sweden
3.1. Participation and Communication
3.2. Social Learning
3.2.1. Orders of Learning
3.2.2. Reflective and Reflexive Communication
3.2.3. Trust, Transparency, and Conflict Management
3.3. Analysing Social Learning: Analytical Framework and Operationalisation of Indicators
4. Approach and Methods
4.1. The Swedish Water Co-Governance Project: Overall Approach, Cases, and Sub-Cases
4.2. The Design of the Processes for the Water Councils
4.3. The Overall Research Approach
4.4. Methods of Data Collection
4.4.1. Key Methods and Sources
4.4.2. Complementary Methods and Sources
5. Results: Stepwise and Overall Outcomes
5.1. Relevant Meetings for All the Three WCs and Their Pilots
5.2. The Outcomes of the Steering Group
5.3. Overall Results—Observations and Outcomes of the Four Pilots
5.3.1. Overall Effects of Working Methods Used
5.3.2. Trust—Based on Access, Standing and Influence
5.3.4. New Relations
5.3.5. New Knowledge
“It is my opinion that there is a widespread fascination for maps and that they have a function in addition to carrying knowledge and information. Do not know if it is about concretely seeing one’s own place as part of the whole, or about something else. In any case, they function as a tool in themselves to create commitment and often function as icebreakers/conversation openers.” (Municipal official).
5.3.6. New Activities
5.3.8. Reflexivity and Reframing
5.3.9. Lock-in Situations
6. Discussion: Observed Patterns and Conceptual Refinement of SL
6.1. Gradual Change of Key Process Characteristics through Factors Promoting Social Learning
6.2. Diverse Knowledge Production in SL-Processes
6.3. Reflectivity, Reflexivity, and Reframing
6.4. Obstacles to Social Learning (Lock-in Situations) and How to Address Them
6.4.1. Dysfunctional Collaboration Patterns
6.4.2. Power Structures, Trust, and Risks in the Process
6.4.3. Context and Cross-Boundary Work—Both Challenging and Enabling
6.4.4. Mutual Respect and Allowing Difference—A Condition for Resolution
6.5.1. Participatory Methods Need an Overall Framing by Trust-Based Approaches
6.5.2. Collaboration Supporting Structures Further Promote Social Learning
6.5.3. Functional and Dysfunctional Patterns, Risks, and Reflexivity
6.5.4. Context—Widening Both Process and Perspectives
7. Conclusions and Outlook
7.1. Deepening the Conceptualisation of SL
7.2. Developing SL in Water and Natural Resource Governance
7.3. Outlook: A Wider Context of Application for TBA and CSS
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Aspects||Trust: Senecah (2004)||SL: Ison and Collins (2009)||SL: Sol et al. (2017)||Operationalisation as Indicators|
|Trust||In terms of:|
|Trust in the process in terms of:|
Actors act in a way that is agreeable to other actors.
|(1a) Time and place for meetings are appropriate.|
(1b) Information is understandable and accessible.
(2a) All participants have a say and can contribute to work.
(2b) Listening to each other is respectful.
(3a) Internal: Respectfully consider each other’s thoughts.
(3b) External: Influence on decisions and respectfully considering input from the WCs.
|Transparency||Is also part |
of the aspect Standing.
|Increasing awareness of each other’s expectations.||Personal/group level: (a) openness about own views and roles.|
(b) Awareness of others’ perspectives.Process level:
(a) clear process in terms of decisions, roles, etc.
(b) Summarizing activity, processes, and results and distributing them to everyone.
(c) Open for diverse perspectives.
|New relations||Growing relational capital.||New relationships.||New persons and stakeholders attend with partly new interests.|
|New knowledge||Development of common knowledge base.||New knowledge.||New knowledge and learning from each other.|
|New activities||1. Increasing agreement on purpose and goals, behaviour, and management during the work.|
2. Growing under-standing and implementing coordinated activities.
|New actions.||Activities as a proxy for agreement, coordinated and implemented, and better understanding of them. Comparing activities done before with new activities through the project (content and quantity).|
(a) Activities are coordinated and implemented.
(b) Better understanding of the activities.
|Commitment||In terms of:|
1. Motivation, passion;
2. Personal (time);
3. Financial resources.
|Expressed enjoyment or dissatisfaction as drivers for acting. |
1. Can be expressed explicit and implicit.
2. Time used by the participants in the process.
3. Received grants and fees.
|Reflexivity||Increasing awareness of each other’s expectations.||In terms of “...reorienting and making the meaning of one’s beliefs and experiences explicit…”||Transformed understanding of water issues and about other’s perspectives on a personal level. |
|Reframing||Increasing agreement on purpose and goals, behaviour, and management during the work.||Reframing in terms of changing perceptions to a common shared understanding.||Transformed understanding of water issues changed, including more and broader perspectives on group level.|
|Lock-in situations||Lock-in situations.||(a) Low quality of communication (e.g., lack/low level of communication or in terms of content).|
(b) Signs of conflict escalation and stalemate between actors (e.g., loss of trust, non-collaboration, guarded behaviour).
|WC 1 (Ätran)||LWG 1 (Vartofta)||LWG 2 (Högvadsån)||WC 2 (Himleån)||WC 3 (Mölndalsån)|
|Catchment area (km2)||3300||35||460||200||280|
|Dominant land use||Coniferous forest, lakes, and bogs.||Cultivated landscape.||Coniferous forest, lakes, and bogs.||Cultivated landscape.||Urban areas, coniferous forest, lakes, bogs.|
|Main challenges||Eutrophication, ditch cleaning to maintain farming.||Obstacles to migration, cleaned watercourses.||Eutrophication, flooding, exploitations.||Flooding, exploitations, obstacles to migration.|
|No. of members||23||Ca. 15||Ca. 25||Ca. 12||12|
|No. of municipalities included||6||1||2||1||5|
|No. of stakeholders||11||4||10||10||10|
|Organisation||Association||Informal network||Informal network||Informal network||Formal network|
|LWG 1||LWG 2||WC 2||WC 3|
|Measures||Wetland constructions.||Biotope rehabilitation.|
Removing obstacles for fish migration.
|Surveys||Watercourse hikes.||Nature inventories.|
Pedagogic water environments.
|Pedagogic water environments.|
Day of Himleån.
|Influence community planning||Meeting with municipality.||Meeting with municipality.|
|Letters||Referrals and letters.|
|WC 1 (LWG 1 and 2)||WC 2||WC 3|
|Access to the WC process internally||Open participation.|
Info. difficult to under-stand/lack of relevant info (Approx. 35%).
Info. difficult to understand/lack of relevant info (0%).
Info. difficult to understand/lack of relevant info (8%).
|Standing in the WC process internally *||Dialogue-oriented.||Dialogue-oriented.||Too little info. from the participants.|
Info-oriented- Protecting interests.
|Average perceived change in dialogue based on individual ratings. **||2.73➔4.25 (+1.52)||3.8➔4.0 (+0.2)||2.8➔3.15 (+0.35)|
|Influence in WC (internal) ***||Respectful consideration of everyone’s thoughts—Often.||Respectful consideration of everyone’s thoughts—Often.||Respectful consideration of everyone’s thoughts—Less often.|
|Influence on government decisions (external)||Little opportunity to influence decisions (58%).||Little opportunity to influence decisions (17%).||Little opportunity to influence decisions (58%).|
|Perceived increase in knowledge||Five different knowledge areas identified.||Six different knowledge areas identified.||Two different knowledge areas identified.|
|Self-rated commitment.||LWG 1: Decreased commitment (50%), unchanged (50%).|
LWG 2: Great commitment—increased (91%), unchanged (9%).
|Great commitment—but only a little greater than at the beginning of the project (100%).||Commitment unchanged (91%), decreased (9%).|
|Key Methods\Effect on:||Trust (Access, Standing, Influence)||Relations||Knowledge||Activities||Commitment|
|Open point of departure (avoiding complete answers from the outset)||Different perspectives invited from the beginning involved in designing of content opened for constructive dialogue. (o)||New participants started up several local water groups based on the participant’s own suggestions. (o)||The design and methods are based on open starting points. It increased exchange of knowledge. (e)||New ideas for activities and measures. (e, o)||Being able to participate and formulate visions, goals, and work has increased commitment. (o)|
|Promoting and emphasising diversity in the group||Increased dynamics in the conversation through more perspectives. (o)||Broader perspectives engage more people. Opportunity for greater collaboration. (o)||Increased diversity of perspectives and knowledge increased learning and holistic understanding. (o)||Increased ideas for improvement, measures, and how they were implemented in collaboration have arisen. (o)||Greater diversity of knowledge and perspectives increased interest and commitment. (o)|
|Emphasis on listening to others—without a need to agree (instead of persuading others of own standpoint)||Does not get caught up in argumentation and conflict, but all participants’ thoughts have time to emerge. (o)||Better opportunity to see collaboration opportunities. (interpreted, based on experience)||Opportunity to listen to everyone’s perspectives, means more learning. (o)||Collaboration around activities and measures can arise more easily. (interpreted, based on experience)||Having time to tell and be listened to and hear other people’s commitment strengthens your own commitment. (o)|
|Thinking for yourself and writing own small notes to share||Greater awareness: everyone’s thoughts are important. (e,o) Curiosity about other’s thoughts. (o)||Increased active participation as more people share their thoughts. (e,o)||Time for reflection where lessons about process are formulated. (e)||New ideas for activities and measures were encouraged. (o)||Emphasises the importance of everyone’s thoughts. Get all thoughts into groups. (e, o)|
|Working in small groups (2–6 persons; as a start-up and complement to large groups)||Easier to get to know each other and everyone had a say. (e,o)||More people actively participate through conversations. (o)||Easier to share knowledge by having time to tell and listen to each other. (o)||Ideas about activities and measures were developed in conversations. (o)||Easier to express commitment and thoughts. (o)|
|Reflection round at the end of a meeting (sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings, ideas)||The reflection increased understanding of each other and influenced the process. (o)||The reflection provided an opportunity to develop and improve the collaboration. (e,o)||Reflecting on what you have done and hearing others’ reflections increased learning. (e,o)||Ideas for improvements of activities/measures can be formulated. (interpreted, based on experience)||Reflecting on what has happened and the process. Influencing the form of the process increased commitment. (o)|
|WC 1||WC 2||WC 3|
|No. of participants||25➔58||8➔35||15➔16|
|No. of stakeholders||10➔14||3➔7||9➔9|
|No. of WG/LWG 1||3➔10||3➔9||2➔3|
|No. of external activities||2➔16||2➔9||2➔4|
|Budget 2017–2019 (SKR)||1.7➔7.3 M (+330%)||210➔740 K (+250%)||210➔370 KR (+76%)|
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Prutzer, M.; Morf, A.; Nolbrant, P. Social Learning: Methods Matter but Facilitation and Supportive Context Are Key—Insights from Water Governance in Sweden. Water 2021, 13, 2335. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172335
Prutzer M, Morf A, Nolbrant P. Social Learning: Methods Matter but Facilitation and Supportive Context Are Key—Insights from Water Governance in Sweden. Water. 2021; 13(17):2335. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172335Chicago/Turabian Style
Prutzer, Madeleine, Andrea Morf, and Peter Nolbrant. 2021. "Social Learning: Methods Matter but Facilitation and Supportive Context Are Key—Insights from Water Governance in Sweden" Water 13, no. 17: 2335. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172335