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Institutions and the resilience of biobased production systems: the historical case of livestock intensification in the Netherlands

Catrien J. A. M. Termeer, Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Peter H. Feindt, Albrecht Daniel Thaer Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
Timos Karpouzoglou, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Krijn J. Poppe, Wageningen Economic Research, The Netherlands
Gert Jan Hofstede, Information Technology Group, Social Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands; UARM, North-West University, South Africa
Koen Kramer, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Lan Ge, Wageningen Economic Research, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Erik Mathijs, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
Miranda P. M. Meuwissen, Business Economics, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands


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Disconnects between farming and urban systems are widely seen as impairing the resilience of biobased production systems (BBPSs). However, the institutional mechanisms that underlie these resilience problems are not well understood. In this explorative paper, which integrates elements from institutional and resilience theory, we develop a framework to analyze how institutionally shaped patterns of connects and disconnects affect the resilience of BBPs along the dimensions of robustness, adaptability, and transformability. This framework is applied to the historical case of pig livestock intensification in the Netherlands from 1870 to 2017. The case shows that institutions, successfully established in earlier periods, shape connects and disconnects in subsequent periods, thereby enabling and constraining resilience. A combination of perturbations, institutional layering, and shifts in ideational power is an important institutional mechanism for resilience. We conclude that building resilience requires a variety of reconnecting institutions and refraining from a focus on local reconnects or certification only.

Key words

biobased production system; connects; institutions; livestock; resilience

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087