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Viable communication systems : knowledge management and text mining for reflecting communication patterns in municipal climate action and research on sustainable energy

  • Since the middle of the 20th century, human society experiences a "Great Acceleration" manifesting in historically remarkable growth rates that create severe sustainability problems. The globally exploding potentials of information and knowledge exchange have been and are vital drivers for this acceleration. Society has now come to the point that it requires a "Great Transformation" towards sustainability to ensure the viability of the planet for a vital society. The energy transition plays a central role for this transformation. In this context, human society has developed a comparably good understanding of the necessary infrastructural changes of this transition. For transforming the patterns of energy production and use in an energySince the middle of the 20th century, human society experiences a "Great Acceleration" manifesting in historically remarkable growth rates that create severe sustainability problems. The globally exploding potentials of information and knowledge exchange have been and are vital drivers for this acceleration. Society has now come to the point that it requires a "Great Transformation" towards sustainability to ensure the viability of the planet for a vital society. The energy transition plays a central role for this transformation. In this context, human society has developed a comparably good understanding of the necessary infrastructural changes of this transition. For transforming the patterns of energy production and use in an energy transition as part of the "Great Transformation", this process of change now needs to strengthen its focus on information, communication, and knowledge systems. Human society needs to establish a knowledge system that has the potential to create usable knowledge for sustainability solutions. This requires organizing a communication system that is sufficiently complex, interconnected, and, at the same time, efficient for integrating reflexive, open-ended, inter- and transdisciplinary learning, evaluation, and knowledge co-production processes across multiple levels. This challenge opens a wide field of research. This cumulative dissertation contributes to research in this direction by applying a systemic sustainability perspective on the content and organization of communication in the field of research on sustainable energy and the operational level of municipal climate action as part of the energy transition. Regarding sustainability, this thesis uses strong sustainability and its principles as a frame for evaluating the content of communication. Regarding the systemic perspective, the thesis particularly relies on the following theories: (i) the human-environment system model by R. Scholz as an overarching framework regarding interactions between humans and nature, (ii) social systems theory by N. Luhmann to reflect the complexity of society, (iii) knowledge management to consider the human character of knowledge and a practice-oriented perspective, and (iv) management cybernetics, in particular, the Viable System Model by S. Beer as a framework to analyze and assess organizational structures. Furthermore, the thesis leverages the potential of text mining as a method to identify and visualize patterns in texts that reflect prevalent paradigms in communication. The thesis applies the above conceptual and methodological basis in three case studies. Case Study 1 investigates the measures proposed in 16 municipal climate action plans of regional centers in Lower Saxony, Germany. It uses a text mining approach in the form of an Summary interpretation network analysis. It analyzes how different societal subsystems are connected at the semantic level and to what extent sustainability principles can be recognized. Case Study 2 analyzes and reflects paradigms and discursive network structures in international scientific publications on sustainable energy. The study investigates 26533 abstracts published from 1990 to 2016 using a text mining approach, in particular topic modeling via latent Dirichlet allocation. Case Study 3 turns again to the cases of municipal climate action in Lower Saxony examined in Case Study 1. It examines the involvement of climate action managers of these cities in multilevel knowledge processes. Using design principles for knowledge systems, it evaluates to what extent knowledge is managed in this field across levels for supporting the energy transition and to what extent local innovation potential is leveraged or supported. The three case studies show that international research on sustainable energy and municipal climate action in Germany provide promising contributions to achieve a transformation towards sustainability but do not fully reflect the complexity of society and still support a growth paradigm, in contrast to a holistic sustainability paradigm. Further, the case studies show that research and local action are actively engaging with the diversity of energy technologies but are lagging in dealing with the socio-epistemic (communication) system, especially with regard to achieving cohesion. Using the example of German municipalities, Case Studies 1 and 3 highlight the challenges of achieving coherent local action for sustainability and bottom-up organizational learning due to incomplete or uncoordinated multilevel knowledge exchange. At the same time, the studies also point out opportunities for supporting the required coherent multilevel learning processes based on local knowledge. This can be achieved, for instance, by strengthening the coordinating role of intermediary organizational units or establishing closer interactions between the local operational units and the national level. The thesis interprets and synthesizes the results of the three case studies from its systemic sustainability perspective. On this basis, it provides several generalized recommendations that should be followed for establishing viable communication systems, especially but not exclusively in policy-making: Systemic holism: Consider matter, energy, and information flows as an integrated triplet in the context of scales, structures, and time in the various subsystems. Knowledge society: Focus on the socio-epistemic (communication) system, e.g., using the perspective of knowledge systems and associated design principles considering, for instance, working environments across horizontal and vertical levels, knowledge forms and types, and knowledge processes. Sufficiency communication: Emphasize sufficiency approaches, make it attractive, and find differentiated ways for communicating them. Multilevel cohesion and innovation: Achieve cohesion between the local and higher levels and leverage local innovations while avoiding isolated local action. Organizational interface design: Define the role of organizational units by the interactions they create at the interfaces with and between societal subsystems. Local transdisciplinarity: Support local transdisciplinary approaches integrating various subsystems, especially industry, while coordinating these approaches from a higher level for leveraging local innovation. Digital public system: Exploit existing digital technologies or infrastructures in the public system and recognize the value of data in the public sphere for achieving cohesion. Beyond the above recommendations, this thesis suggests that potential for further research lies in: Advancing nature-inspired systemic frameworks. Understanding the structure and creation of human knowledge. Developing text mining methodologies towards solution-oriented approaches.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Author:Manuel Bickel
URN (citable link):https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:gbv:luen4-opus4-11073
University:Universität
City of university:Lüneburg
Publisher:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Place of publication:Lüneburg
Year of Publication:2021
Number of page:315
Language:English
Divisions:Nachhaltiges Produzieren und Konsumieren
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Sozialwissenschaften