Advancing archetype analysis for scaling-out sustainable land management

The rapid growth and diversification of archetype analyses during the last decades has generated variations, inconsistencies, and confusion about the meanings, potential, and limitations of archetypes. Moreover, the methods used to investigate archetypes differ widely in their epistemological and normative underpinnings, data requirements, and suitability to address particular research purposes. Therefore, a consolidated perspective on the core features and diverse meanings of archetype analysis in sustainability research, their policy relevance and guidance for systematically choosing methods in archetype analysis is needed. 

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 (30 October – 1 November 2019). 

Reflections included: 

  • Current state and emerging thematic and methodological frontiers of archetype analysis assessed in different sustainability domains (e.g. sustainable rural renewal in China, global evidence-based out-scaling of water harvesting, polycentric cities).
  • Ways to tackle main thematic and methodological frontiers, using examples from selected ongoing research projects in different fields of sustainability research (e.g. agro-food systems, institutional analysis, land systems, climate change).
  • Lessons learned and new ideas on promising archetype applications, especially in the context of science-policy-practice interfaces (e.g. up-scaling and transfer of knowledge).

This workshop consolidated the findings from the first phase of archetype analysis in sustainability research for which three papers give an overview (Oberlack et al. 2019, Sietz et al. 2019, Eisenack et al. 2019 ). To pave the way toward the second phase of archetype analysis, we identified key themes for multi-disciplinary project proposals with archetype analysis in the core (e.g. Horizon 2020) and framed a proposal for new special issues with submission in 2020.

Action items include: 

  • Land and governance-specific archetype proposals
  • Transdisciplinary knowledge co-production on archetypes
  • Validate archetype-based replicability claims for sustainability solutions
  • Refine vision for next archetype workshops
  • Design communication strategy 

Organizing committee:
Dr. Tomáš Václavík (, Palacký University Olomouc, CZ
Dr. Christoph Oberlack (, University of Bern, CH
Prof. Dr. Klaus Eisenack (, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, DE
Dr. Diana Sietz (, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, DE

For more about archetype analysis and recent developments, please visit the page of the Working Group on Archetype Analysis.