Understanding institutional capacity for urban water transitions

Yvette Helena Bettini, Rebekah Ruth Brown, Fjalar Johannes de Haan, Megan Farrelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Transitions management (TM) is emerging as an approach to governing complex sustainability problems. Critiques point to the need to understand dynamics of system change, particularly, with regard to actor agency at micro and meso scales. This paper begins to address this scholarly gap by first, developing an analytical framework of the institutional context of a transition that recognizes forms of agency. Second, a method to apply the framework to empirical cases of urban water socio-technical systems to map their institutional context is developed. The results revealed: i) ways to identify problematic features of current systems and underlying cognitive and normative frames, to assist with envisioning and transition pathway development, ii) a method of system analysis that can target leverage points for strategizing transitions agendas and experiments, and iii) a dynamic description of the system to assist with evaluating TM interventions and monitoring transitions. By providing a systems analysis cognizant of contextual dynamics and targeted to the knowledge needs of TM activities, this analytical tool shows promise for improving TM through further empirical application and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65 - 79
Number of pages15
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Transistions management
  • Institutional dynamics
  • Systems analysis
  • Agency

Cite this