Meeting the challenge of learning for sustainability through policy networks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Decision-making for sustainability is often confounded by the complex and ideologically divisive nature of policy issues surrounding coupled natural and human systems. However, some policy actors are more successful than others in learning to deal with these challenges. This study examines the extent to which variation in learning by organizations in the policy process is explained by an organization’s position within a larger policy network. Mechanisms of interest include bridging and bonding social capital, which is hypothesized to promote learning, and network segregation, which is hypothesized to impede learning. Hypotheses are tested using statistical models applied to organizational network positions and perceptions of learning outcomes in three regional land use planning processes in California, USA. Results underscore the importance of bonding social capital and network expansiveness in promoting learning within complex issue domains. Certain forms of segregation are an important barrier to learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-193
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Ecology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Network segregation
  • Regional planning
  • Social capital
  • Social network analysis
  • Sustainability science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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