Pelling, Mark, High, Chris, Dearing, John and Smith, Denis
Shadow spaces for social learning: a relational understanding of adaptive capacity to climate change within organisations
Environment and Planning A, 40, (4), . (doi:10.1068/a39148).
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Recent UK government policy on climate change, and wider policy movement within the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, emphasise the building of adaptive
capacity. But what are the institutional constraints that shape capacity to build adaptive organisa-
tions? The authors synthesise theory from social learning and institutional aspects of multilevel
environmental governance to help unpack the patterns of individual and collective action within
organisations that can enhance or restrict organisational adaptive capacity in the face of abrupt
climate change. Theoretical synthesis is grounded by empirical work with a local dairy farmers group
and two supporting public sector bodies that are both local actors in their own rights and which also
shape the operating environment for other local actors (the Environment Agency and the Welsh
Assembly and Assembly-sponsored public bodies). Providing space within and between local organi-
sations for individuals to develop private as well as officially sanctioned social relationships is
supported as a pathway to enable social learning. It is also a resource for adaptation that requires
little financial investment but does call for a rethinking of the personal skills and working routines
that are incentivised within organisations.
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