1.4 Conditions and the use of KEMs

Methods, processes and strategies are indispensable in the realisation of missions and transitions. They give the professional a perspective for action, make clear what to do and what not to do, which steps must be taken and which paths may lead to a desired result. At the same time, KEMs are not the whole picture. Many steps in a transition process can also take place without methods, based on knowledge and logic. Either intuitively, fed by years of experience, or simply through trial and error. KEMs are supportive, a resource. Sometimes the key to a breakthrough, but never a guarantee for success.

KEMs offer so-called ‘change’ professionals support in tackling transition issues. In light of this, it is important to be aware of the context-dependent nature of KEMs. The contexts in which methods are applied and the way in which they are deployed ultimately determine the quality of the intervention and thus the effectiveness of the method. These contexts are formed by all kinds of variables related to the nature of the issue, the involvement of users, consumers and citizens (quadruple helix) and the situation in which the issue is being tackled.

The mission-driven transition challenges at hand cover a broad spectrum of subjects and contexts within which the desired interventions must land. Variables that characterise these issues and contexts and are relevant to the choice of KEMs to be deployed include:

  • the nature of the intended impact: from incremental to radical impact. The energy transition is an intended radical change; financial incentives to get people using renewables are often incremental in nature.

  • the nature of the intervention: from instrumental to institutional intervention. With instrumental interventions the direct goal is to bring about a change in behaviour; Institutional interventions involve, for example, new or stronger supervisors.

  • the level at which the intervention takes place: from individual to collective level (also referred to as micro and macro level). Installing a smart meter is an intervention at an individual level (household); a new regulation to protect privacy is an intervention at a collective level.

In addition, the situation in which the challenge is tackled is relevant for choices in the way in which the chosen KEMs are applied. Variables are for example:

  • the degree of politicisation;

  • the degree of technological control;

  • the degree of substantive uncertainty;

  • the degree of social attention and urgency;

  • the degree of interdependence with other issues;

  • the degree of willingness to change or expected social resistance;

  • the degree of involvement of the client and other stakeholders, and

  • the availability of time and resources.

The conditions that are formed by these variables, and the choices that are made on the basis thereof about the use of KEMs (both the choice of KEMs and the way in which they are used) determine to what extent a specific KEM - or a combination of KEMs - leads to successful results in specific issues and situations. Although theoretically any method can be used for any issue and in any situation, some methods are more effective for certain issues and situations than others: the conditions for which the KEM is designed partly determine the situations in which this KEM comes into its own and has impact. The success of the application of KEMs therefore depends on many variables and therefore requires a professional approach. It is important that the variables are taken into account and that attention is always paid to the conditions of the issue, the context and the situation.

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