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Table 2 Common pitfalls of transurban learning in city networks and how these are addressed by design elements and implementation conditions of the meta-lab approach

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

Common pitfalls of transurban learning Solutions offered by meta-lab approach
Focus on successes, while failures and problems are ignored Experiments are followed from beginning till end, including failures as well as successes
Continuity in participation of local representatives to facilitate the follow-up of local experiments through time
Lack of attention for the specific local context of ‘best practices’, including enabling factors Ample attention for local conditions and context factors
Expert facilitation of de- and re-contextualisation of lessons
Learning in one-way direction (‘leaders’ do not learn from ‘followers’) Horizontal network structure, with similar roles and contributions expected from all partners
Capacities of partners are brought to an equal level by offering advice and support tools
The partnership is too diverse, so that the lessons learned by one partner are not relevant for other partners Membership is restricted to cities with comparable conditions
Lack of capacity to translate and reframe lessons learned by one partner for other partners De- and re-contextualisation of lessons by joint reflection of scientific experts and local practitioners on completed and planned experiments
Expert facilitation of de- and re-contextualisation
The importance of personal and informal exchange of knowledge is not acknowledged Regular face-to-face meetings that include socializing and site visits to local experiments
Continuity in participation of local representatives
Dominant focus on a limited set of business-as-usual solutions Transformative goals are included in the central learning agenda
More advanced cities focus on each other (‘pioneers-for-pioneers’) Horizontal structure of the learning network; local capacities are brought to an equal level by offering advice and support tools
Fees are not too high to prevent an elite-network of wealthier cities
Partners are inactive and participate for other purposes than learning Other interests aside from learning are respected, without becoming dominant
Appointment of dedicated ‘meta-lab officials’ to safeguard the primary focus on transurban learning
Fees are not too low to keep out partners without genuine interest in learning