Diffusion and growth of community-led initiatives

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Also see Diffusion and growth of the Transition movement

  • "The ARTS project has identified five mechanisms for achieving acceleration and growth of local transitions through initiatives, which will be used here." [1]
  • Growth, Replication and Upscale (+Partnership and Instrumentalizing?)
  • "Nevertheless the majority of the CBIs are replicating rather than growing (63% of the sample)". [2]
  • "The growth of CBIs has been adopted in TESS as another measure of success. Nevertheless the majority of the CBIs are replicating rather than growing (63% of the sample). A common pattern emerging among the CBIs observed by TESS is that once they grow beyond certain mature scale in terms of services, economy or members, they tend to replicate or introduce structural changes. The strategy of growth is preferred when initiatives opt for higher professionalisation and commercialization of their activities. The structural changes associated with growing often concern the introduction of certain level of organizational hierarchies which does not go without internal organisational tension.

There are multiple manners by which groups deal with conflicts that accompany growth and established (internal) hierarchies. As the values that lead to the creation of a CBI tend to clash with the commitments needed for its growth, the evolution of grassroots initiatives that decide to up-scale requires mechanisms to monitor and tackle power imbalances establishing an open dialogue and spaces for feedback and reflection. Furthermore, while openness and participatory approaches contribute to growth in membership, these sometimes preclude generational continuity, which could be required for CBIs’ survival. As with the case of persistence, income generation and state support can be central for initiatives aiming at professional/service- and membership- growth, while not particularly important for the groups using a replication strategy, especially in the field of energy." [2]

  • Growth and replication Replication of a CBI organizational format elsewhere is preferred to growth in numbers/members/income/activity (Italy, Spain) When a growth/expansion strategy is chosen, it tends to prioritize job-creation. There tends to be a clash between the values and commitments needed for CBIs' initiation and persistence and those needed for its growth and expansion (Germany, Italy, UK, Spain)". One internal limit to the wider impact of CBIs is their focus on operational and economic aspects required for survival, while leaving little leeway for sociopolitical interventions (all countries)". There seems to be a limit as to how big a co-operative can grow without changing • its original (horizontal, volunteer-based) organizational structure (Finland). [3]


  • "Up-scaling is the process of growing members, supporters or users of a single transition initiative. While growth enables professionalisation, hiring (more) staff and the provision of more goods and services, it may corrupt their original vision of sustainability and make critical voices leave. Many initiatives are therefore not eager on scaling and concentrate their goals and activities on their immediate environment." [1]
  • "Replicating is the foundation of a similar initiative in another region." [1]
  • "This alternative strategy is often preferred by initiatives to avoid expansion beyond a certain threshold, but expand their reach by inciting replications in other places and contexts right-sizing" strategy, or keeping a small size that allows for horizontality and participation, is common among food cooperatives and non-profit initiatives working with volunteers. It is however less common when working in the field of renewable energy, where economies of scale help to lower the otherwise high costs." [1]

TESS found the same thing - replicating preferred to growth (note on p.5)

  • "About 49% of the initiatives surveyed in the TESS project emerged by replicating blueprints of existing groups and initiatives examined in PATHWAYS often follow these patterns." [1]
  • "Partnering is the process of pooling and/ or complementing resources, competences and capacities to exploit synergies"
  • "Public policy can facilitate Partnering through providing space and resources that allow potential partners to come together." [1]
  • "Instrumentalising is the process of tapping into and capitalizing on opportunities to secure resources for the continuity of the initiative's operation." [1]
  • "Transition initiatives have to balance grant funding and 'projectification' of their practice that may result in low buy in from the community and a grant-dependency." [1]


  • "The graphic shows that the number of transition initiatives in the four countries has steadily increased over the past eight years, but the rate of increase has slowed down in all countries, although more markedly in Great Britain" [4]
  • "The maps clearly show that in all four countries the diffusion of the Transition Network has been spatially uneven and has penetrated little in most of France, Germany and Italy, where the Network has a shorter history, with most units featuring one transition initiative." [4]
  • "This graphic suggests that transition initiatives may be more likely to emerge in some geographical areas than in others, identifies such hotand cold-spots and calls for better comprehending where grassroots innovations emerge. This will help to uncover possible common characteristics of transitions in place and support the emergence and diffusion of alternatives to the unsustainable economies of neoliberal capitalism." [4]
  • 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 TESS, ARTS & PATHWAYS, 2016. Common Policy Brief.
  • 2.0 2.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named multiple TESS Final Report
  • Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named multiple TESS D4.1
  • 4.0 4.1 4.2 Feola, G., Him, M.R., 2016. The diffusion of the Transition Network in four European countries. Environ. Plan. A. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308518x16630989