Exploring the practice of Labs for sustainable transformation: The challenge of ‘creating impact’

Kristiaan P.W. Kok, , Petra Wagner, , ,

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


Scholars have argued that transdisciplinary experimentation processes in Labs which include societal stakeholders in research and innovation might help to create meaningful societal impact. At the same time, there is ample room to explore the practice of ‘doing’ Labs in relation to the transformative impacts that Labs aim to create. We present a case study of the FIT4FOOD2030 project (2017–2020) aimed at contributing to food system transformation in the EU through setting up 25 multi-stakeholder Labs. We aimed to gain insight into how transdisciplinary Labs with transformative ambitions try to create impact, and which challenges that brings along. For “capacitating change”, Labs built agency by focusing on creating (1) new relations through network mobilization, network consolidation and network coordination; (2) new knowledge through knowledge sharing and social learning; and (3) new competences for Lab coordinators and engaged stakeholders. For “creating change” Labs focused on (1) transforming networks – the Lab as catalyst; (2) transforming practices – the Lab as concretizer; (3) transforming structures – the Lab as construction site; (4) transforming cultures - the Lab as critical mass. We observed complex (reciprocal) relations between processes of capacitating and creating change. Finally, we present intrinsic challenges in the practice of ‘doing’ Labs regarding the evaluation of single-Lab impacts, and the political dynamics of transformative Labs.
FachzeitschriftJournal of Cleaner Production
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 15 Feb. 2023

Research Field

  • Innovation Systems and Digitalisation


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