Understanding the institutional work of boundary objects in climate-proofing cities: The case of Amsterdam Rainproof

Jannes J. Willems*, Mendel Giezen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Creating climate-proof cities typically comes with institutional barriers between public and private parties. Therefore, local governments are increasingly establishing local climate adaptation networks through which collective knowledge and action can be developed. We aim to understand how these networks can initiate institutional change that enables a climate-proof city. To this end, we theorize that boundary objects – either conceptual or material artifacts – that allow different groups to work together without consensus are important instruments of institutional work strategies that aim to change or disrupt established institutional structures. Our case study of Amsterdam Rainproof in the Netherlands, a frontrunner in urban climate networks, shows that shared concepts and models developed in city networks seem to primarily contribute to capacity building (generating interdisciplinary knowledge about a climate-proof city), agenda-setting (underscoring the urgency of climate adaptation), and the creation of new normative identities (climate adaptation as the joint responsibility of urban actors). Accordingly, boundary objects in the case study transform the cultural-cognitive and normative pillars of institutions, while the regulative pillar (enforcement and sanctioning) is more difficult to change. Altogether, our case study analysis suggests that local climate adaptation networks might not result in a climate-proof city in the short term but can provide a better breeding ground for climate-proofing cities in the long run.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101222
Number of pages13
JournalUrban Climate
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Dutch Research Council [grant number 438.19.152 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

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