Learning from the Transdisciplinary Case Study Approach: A Functional-Dynamic Approach to Collaboration Among Diverse Actors in Applied Energy Settings

  • Michael StauffacherEmail author
  • Pius Krütli
  • Thomas Flüeler
  • Roland W. Scholz
Part of the Environment & Policy book series (ENPO, volume 52)


Participation of a variety of actors has been observed in both energy research and the transition process of energy systems, and more participation is commonly advocated. Despite this, ‘participation’ seems to be an all-purpose term with an unclear definition. To give it meaning, the following key questions must be addressed: Why and when should different actors be involved? Who should be involved and who should involve them? In which specific issues should the participants be involved and what are they expected to contribute? Which techniques allow for appropriate participation? How can informal participation techniques be combined to develop a staged, formal process? Finally, what role do research methods play in such processes? This contribution addresses these questions conceptually and then more concretely with illustrations from the authors’ own experiences in collaborating with diverse actors in a transdisciplinary research process. The chapter concludes that a functional-dynamic approach to addressing collaboration is necessary, further knowledge integration is crucial and a systematic and analytical framework is thus essential. These elements are presented in the transdisciplinary case study (TdCS) design. Appropriate and tailored participation techniques and research methods were selected and integrated in order to provide the prerequisites for inclusive collaboration, depending on the goals and phase of the research process in question.


Collaboration Decision process Dynamic approach Knowledge integration Public participation Transdisciplinary research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Stauffacher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pius Krütli
    • 2
  • Thomas Flüeler
    • 3
  • Roland W. Scholz
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zurich, Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI)ZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zurich, Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI)ZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zurich, Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI)ZurichSwitzerland

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