Innovative policy measures often imply institutional adjustments. Whether such adjustments are accomplished often depends upon the presence of institutional entrepreneurship: actors who take responsibility to initiate the necessary actions to redesign existing institutional practices. The question arises under which conditions can institutional entrepreneurship be developed? And, what might be the cause of lacking institutional entrepreneurship? In this article, the latter question is examined through in-depth collaborative research project for exploring alternative, adaptive flood risk strategies for flood proofing the unembanked area of the north-end of the city district Feijenoord in Rotterdam. Due to climate change, these areas are increasingly vulnerable to flooding. The traditional, institutionalized solution of raising the ground level before initiating new spatial developments does not suffice in the long term. Therefore, the city government explored alternative strategies for more adaptive ways of dealing with flood risks. Together with representatives of key stakeholders in the area, two key strategies for the unembanked areas were elaborated. These strategies have significant implications for the distribution of costs, risks and responsibilities and necessitate alternative governance architectures that exceed the current institutional structures. During the research project, it became clear that the developed alternative strategies fundamentally differed from the current institutional system. Thus, institutional redesign was necessary. This proved to be virtually impossible, especially because none of the involved actors was willing nor capable of undertaking entrepreneurial activities to start such redesign. This observation led us to further investigate into the causes and the consequences of the absent entrepreneurship.

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Policy and Society
Department of Sociology

Duijn, M., & van Buuren, A. (2017). The absence of institutional entrepreneurship in climate adaptation policy – in search of local adaptation strategies for Rotterdam’s unembanked areas. Policy and Society, 36(4), 575–594. doi:10.1080/14494035.2017.1369615