Environmental Sociology

pp 201-216


Beyond Neocorporatism? Transdisciplinary Case Studies as a Means for Collaborative Learning in Sustainable Development

  • Michael StauffacherAffiliated withSwiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI) Email author 

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Stakeholder involvement in political decision processes is sometimes claimed being a corporatist arrangement – generally with a pejorative connotation. Answering this claim, I first review the discussion of neocorporatism. Secondly, I present our own work, the Transdisciplinary Case Study (TdCS). Through this design, we initiate and foster collaborative learning processes in sustainable development. I discuss if the TdCS design can be understood as neocorporatist arrangement. In a literal classical understanding this is not the case. In a broader process understanding, our design resembles a neocorporatist like interest mediation. Yet, it goes well beyond: a larger number of stakeholder groups is involved; the role played by science is emphasized; and it is conceptualized more as learning process than as interest negotiation. I conclude by showing some implications from this macrosociological perspective for our work. I will pay special emphasis to the crucial role(s) science plays.


Neocorporatism Sustainable development Stakeholder involvement Science and society Transdisciplinarity