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Institutional entrepreneurship and techniques of inclusiveness in the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Isabelle Arpin, Université Grenoble Alps; Irstea
Marc Barbier, LISIS; INRA; CNRS; ESIEE; UPEM; Université Paris-Est
Guillaume Ollivier, INRA; UR 0767 Ecodéveloppement
Celine Granjou, Université Grenoble Alps; Irstea; DTGR


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This article contributes to understanding the conditions of social-ecological change by focusing on the agency of individuals in the pathways to institutionalization. Drawing on the case of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), it addresses institutional entrepreneurship in an emerging environmental science-policy institution (ESPI) at a global scale.

Drawing on ethnographic observations, semistructured interviews, and document analysis, we propose a detailed chronology of the genesis of the IPBES before focusing on the final phase of the negotiations toward the creation of the institution. We analyze the techniques and skills deployed by the chairman during the conference to handle the tensions at play both to prevent participants from deserting the negotiations arena and to prevent a lack of inclusiveness from discrediting the future institution. We stress that creating a new global environmental institution requires the situated exercise of an art of “having everybody on board” through techniques of inclusiveness that we characterize.

Our results emphazise the major challenge of handling the fragmentation and plasticity of the groups of interest involved in the institutionalization process, thus adding to the theory of transformative agency of institutional entrepreneurs. Although inclusiveness might remain partly unattainable, such techniques of inclusiveness appear to be a major condition of the legitimacy and success of the institutionalization of a new global ESPI. Our results also add to the literature on boundary making within ESPIs by emphasizing the multiplicity and plasticity of the groups actually at stake.

Key words

chair person; environmental science-policy institutions; institutional entrepeneurship; IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services); sociological investigation; techniques of inclusiveness

Copyright © 2016 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