Archetype Analysis in Sustainability and Land Governance Research
Artist: Anne Ludwig, "Dom Mosaik"

Archetype Analysis in Sustainability and Land Governance Research

Short Description

Archetypes depict representative patterns, i.e. similarities and differences, in socio-ecological interactions. With this generalisation, archetype analysis supports the scaling and transfer of knowledge from one place to another in a systematic way. The underlying assumption is that similarities in social-ecological conditions link to similarities in sustainability interventions.

Archetype analysis in sustainability research has been used to understand factors and processes that repeatedly determine the (un)sustainability of social-ecological systems. This includes development drivers and outcomes related to livelihood vulnerability, land use, economic development, food security, and climate adaptation, among others. Archetypes are useful to understand functional similarities and differences in a broader perspective and inform decisions that need to be made across diverse spatial scales, linking local realities with global change processes.

This working group will advance two pillars of GLP’s Science Plan 2016-2021. First, this working group will provide a platform to advance methodologies for analyzing and synthesizing recurrent patterns from contextualized case studies by using the archetype approach. Second, it will advance analysis on land governance including by building bridges to the research community of institutional analysis of the commons.

Goals and Objectives

The specific objectives of this Working Group are:

  1. to consolidate the archetype approach by taking stock of applications, methods, roots, opportunities and current limitations;

  2. to push current methodological frontiers by encouraging methodological debate and cutting-edge applications;

  3. to advance understanding of key sustainability challenges and opportunities by presenting new applications of archetype analysis;

  4. to provide a platform to bridge land system science and institutional analysis/commons research communities to advance case study synthesis methods and analysis of land governance, and

  5. to provide a platform for a next generation of archetype analysis.

GLP Themes: Land governance, Land management systems, Land use and conflict


When decision makers want to scale-out sustainable land management practices, they need to decide where these practices may be most promising. This is a fundamental decision given the great diversity of land systems. To that end, leading land systems and land governance scientists, including researchers from GLP and beyond, discussed recent advances and frontiers of archetype analysis in the 3rd workshop on “Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research” at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic.   Read full post

Related Information


September 22, 2020
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 (All day) to Friday, February 5, 2021 (All day)

This workshop by the GLP Archetypes Working Group follow up on three successful workshops on archetypes held in Bern (2017), Berlin (2018)  and Olomouc (2019). This time, the workshop will be held by the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Stockholm, Sweden, with the option of joining remotely. The workshop invites new as well as established members of the Archetypes of Sustainability network.  

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May 13, 2020

Submissions are sought for a new Special Feature in Sustainability Science being edited by GLP Members Christian Kimmich, Christoph Oberlack and Sergio Villamayor-Tomas. Expressions of interest are due on 31 August 2020.

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November 7, 2019

A special issue of Sustainability has been announced, focusing on "Natural Resources Management and Conflicts in the Context of Sustainability Transformation". The call for papers is now open and the deadline for paper submissions is August 31, 2020.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members