Collaborative governance for sustainable materials management: the role of leadership in complex network systems (Inge Vermeesch)

This research project is set within the interdisciplinary Policy Research Center SuMMa, studying Flanders’ transition towards Sustainable Materials Management (SMM).

As an organizational psychologist, Inge’s focus will be on the social processes involved and on the stakeholder interactions. The shift to (SMM) should be considered a societal innovation requiring creative and collaborative processes to succeed and a ‘governance beyond government’ approach that accepts non-government actors to take diverse steering initiatives through formal and informal interactions and networks. In this research project Inge will study innovative governance networks as complex network systems to investigate how leadership emerges and evolves and how it influences the collaborative process and the sustainability of its outcomes. Recent research no longer views leadership as concentrated in one person, but enacted by many in different leadership networks. Therefore, it is proposed to combine network theory with new leadership paradigms such as the Complexity Leadership Theory. The objectives of the research are to gain a better understanding of leadership in complex network systems and to contribute, through action research, to collaborative change initiatives towards SMM.

Supervisors: Katrien Termeer, Mark Craps (HUBrussel University College) and Art Dewulf