Project Team

Dr. Torsten Grothmann

Dr. rer. pol. Nicolas Jager

Julie King


Prof. Dr. Bernd Siebenhüner


Secretariat: Birgit Schelenz


+49 441 798-4384  

Object of Research

The adaption to the intensifying consequences of climate change is one of the greatest global challenges. Nevertheless, only limited counteractive measures are carried out by the public administration - institutions, infrastructures, technologies and societal behaviour react resistantly to change. To understand the gap, a deepened knowledge about how the society is guided and regulated is required. However, existing literature often oversees this chasm and is mostly limited to describe barriers of change. It requires the uncovering of the dynamic causing and keeping up the so called 'lock-ins'. The mentioned disclosure is the goal of this interdisciplinary study. With an empirical, but theoretical-reflecting approach, three areas of policy and regulation relevant for climate adaption in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are reviewed: water management, health care as well as biodiversity and nature conservation.

Method / Approach

This project uses an approach with mixed measures to understand, why lock-ins occur and persist in every instance. Furthermore, a qualitative, comparative analysis will be conducted to improve the understanding of the dynamics of lock-ins and their effect on climate adaption. The project will confront the oberserved (in)activities with different approaches for explaining lock-ins and advance empirical findings about the arise and persistance of lock-ins. Furthermore, it uses the results to give recommendations for the design of effective policies.

Project duration

June 2019 - May 2022


The project „Climate adaption policy lock-ins: A 3 x3 approach“ is promoted with 1.5 million euro by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk (NWO).


  • University of Oldenburg (Germany): Focus on conceptualising and analysing infrastructural-technological lock-ins
  • Open University (Netherlands): Focus on conceptualising and analysing behavioural lock-ins
    Prof. Dr. Dave Huitema - dav/
    Dr. Lisanne Groen -
  • University of East Anglia (UK): Fokus auf Konzeptualisierung und Analyse institutioneller lock-ins
    Dr. John Turnpenny -
    Dr. Tim Rayner -
    Dr. Meghan Alexander - m.anxm1lejwed3xander@u1witeasnq.asimc.uwokffhf
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