Rafael Wittek is a Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, University of Groningen (the Netherlands). He is also the principal investigator of the Transdisciplinary research and training program, Sustainable Cooperation (SCOOP) – Roadmaps to Resilient Societies, a 10-year interuniversity initiative funded by the Dutch government. He taught at Cornell University, ETH Zürich, the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, and the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His research interests are in the field of cooperation science, economic and organizational sociology, and social networks.
I argue that social resilience requires sustainable cooperation, i.e., the durable joint creation of blended value. Therefore, the main challenge for communities and organizations is to foster the transition towards institutional arrangements fostering sustainable cooperation. However, most conventional institutional arrangements often are ill-suited for this purpose, for two reasons. First, they are geared towards a narrow rather than a blended conception of value creation, which incorporates a joint endeavour’s impact on a broad range of societal needs. For example, GDP, the most important indicator for measuring progress, exclusively focuses on economic growth, at the detriment of social or ecological dimensions of well-being. Second, the governance structures that are used to induce the required actions often are insufficiently prepared to secure durable cooperation among stakeholders also under deteriorating circumstances. For example, performance contingent rewards may successfully incentivize the pursuit of specific outcomes in the short run, but they often undermine cooperation in the long run. Drawing on Joint Production Motivation theory and social network approaches, I first explore which institutional arrangements may foster resilience through sustainable cooperation. Using available case study evidence, I then illustrate how social innovation organizations can facilitate transitions to resilience enhancing institutional arrangements.