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Social Systems – Policy and Management


Industrial ecology deals with the way in which economic activities are coordinated in industrial societies, analysing the linkages among the producers and consumers of materials and energy. Such linkages may be coordinated through markets, networks, or organizations. In addition, other actors, including governments, seek to influence these linkages, adding public coordination mechanisms such as regulations, subsidies, and taxes to the system. The social system in which material and energy flows are embedded thus consists of a rich variety of ways through which actors can come to coordinated action. These coordination mechanisms can facilitate certain linkages, but in other cases they may impede certain linkages being made.
The course focuses on:
(1) the way in which actors in social systems achieve coordination, a central theme in economic sociology, institutional economics, and public administration.
(2) the way in which coordination mechanisms can be used to increase the sustainability of industrial systems
Taking a problem-oriented approach, coordination mechanisms such as markets, organizations, networks, and various forms of government are explored in theory and through experiential learning of specific management and policy tools.
Comparative research will used to explore the importance of the social embeddedness of industrial ecology.

Study Goals
1. To understand in what way coordination is central to Industrial Ecology
2. To describe and critically assess economic and social theories of coordination
3. To assess the relevance of a coordination mechanism for specific problem characteristics
Academic skills: – critical thinking – role play – interviewing

Education Method
Lectures, group work, reading, writing, discussions, assignment.



The intention is to develop the course using specific collective problems related to industrial ecology and sustainability: – common pool water resources, fisheries – restructuring an industrial park to increase sustainability – eutrophication of surface water – managing social responsibility in product chains (Nokia suppliers in China) – building wind ‘parks’ in NL

Academic skills in part are acquired through reading and critically reflecting on texts and lectures that present theories on how to coordinate actions to solve these problems.
Other academic skills, such as role play, are acquired through group exercises.
Interviewing is added as a primer for the individual assignment, and also preludes on thesis work.

Related courses
IE4110 Fundamentals of Systems, Data, Models and Computational Thinking
SPM4820IE Sustainable Innovation and Social Change
IE4130 Analytical Methodologies and Tools