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Table 1 An example of decontextualization and recontextualisation

From: Enhancing the contribution of urban living labs to sustainability transformations: towards a meta-lab approach

In SUMMALab, the process of de- and recontextualization starts when involved researchers present lessons from local experiments in the transdisciplinary learning space. For instance, a researcher presented such lessons in response to one of the questions of the overarching transurban learning agenda: How could you, as a municipality, prepare for the upscaling phase of an experiment? The lessons were based on an analysis of a running experiment on neighbourhood mobility hubs in Amsterdam. The analysis indicated that to anticipate the upscaling of neighbourhood hubs, the municipality could best:
- Choose a city-wide scope from the start, and develop an approach that can be repeated in other neighborhoods.
- Go for a bottom-up approach, and customize for the specific context of the neighborhood together with the residents.
- Involve from the beginning not only external but also internal stakeholders, i.e., the (later) relevant municipal departments.
After the lessons from this local experiment were presented, the following question was posed to the practitioners of other cities: ‘to what extent are these lessons also useful / applicable /relevant for your city?’ This was to start the de- and recontextualisation of the lesson. Practitioners mentioned the following relevant aspects of the context of the experiment in Amsterdam:
- It was an externally co-funded project, and part of a larger international project, with notable ambitions, reflected in a project proposal that already promised the development of 10-15 neighborhood hubs in Amsterdam.
- It was implemented in existing neighborhoods, not in new neighborhood developments.
The practitioners also mentioned that findings were not so applicable for smaller cities, with smaller municipal organizations and less departmental barriers. Neither would it be relevant for newly built neighborhoods, nor for hubs near larger public transport hubs.
Subsequently, a Mentimeter-poll was distributed in which participants were asked to choose one of the following answers concerning how useful / applicable /relevant these lessons were for their city: (a) No, (b) Yes, but very different context (needs major translation), (c) Yes, but slightly different context (needs minor translation), (d) Yes, I can apply it 1-to-1.
Most participant choose (c): need for minor translation. Participants from Rotterdam and The Hague explained that for their existing neighborhoods these lessons were applicable as well. In Rotterdam the need to involve municipal departments was recognised as being essential, because otherwise this likely leads to problems and delays later in the process. The need for minor translations stems from particular local nuances in policy priorities, e.g., the importance of social inclusion in Rotterdam. In The Hague, a minor translation is needed because the first hubs are implemented as part of spatial redevelopment of neighborhoods because of new sewage systems.