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Experiences with the constellation analysis (CA)

CA has been successfully applied in sustainability, technology, and innovation studies.

Example A: CA for a biography of wind power innovation

In this case, several CA were conducted for different phases of development of the energy sector in Germany. In the different figures to support the comparability of the constellations). The aim was to examine the role of control (by different actors) in interrelation with other driving and activating forces. (A technical note: To support the comparability of the constellations, elements that showed up in more than one constellation were identically indicated in the figures).

Example B: CA for strategy development in flood management

CA was implemented in a case study that drew upon a transformation process in flood management in the aftermath of extreme flooding of the Elbe and Mulde rivers in Southeast Germany in August 2002. After the flood, different groups of actors stated that the risk had been underestimated in the past and demanded a change of strategy for flood protection. However, there was no common understanding of what should change and how this change should be brought about. The transdisciplinary research project ‘Blocked Transition? Spaces of Thinking and Action for Sustainable Development’ tried to enhance mutual understanding by mapping the different perspectives on flood-protection strategies (Meister et al. 2005, Kruse 2008). A comparison between the different perspectives illuminated the differences between positions, the nature of real or perceived conflicts and key obstacles to the implementation of flood-protection measures.

Example C: CA for joint problem framing in sustainable land use research

The project ELaN (Developing an integrated land management scheme for sustainable water and nutrients use in Northeastern Germany) had the goal to develop strategies for sustainable water and land management. As a starting point in the project, CA was applied to integrate knowledge from different disciplines and experts from practice for a joint problem framing (Schäfer & Kröger 2016). Later in the project, CA was used to integrate heterogeneous knowledge for sketching possible future constellations, which took the challenges in the diverse fields (e.g. water and land management, agriculture, natural protection) into account (Kröger et al. 2012).

Figure 1: Constellation Analysis for water and land management of rural fenlands
Figure 1: Constellation Analysis for water and land management of rural fenlandsImage: Schäfer & Kröger 2016

First published: February 2022