Another PhD journey ended successfully and we welcome our colleague Kirill now as PostDoc in our team! For the defense of his thesis “Understanding interest politics in social-ecological systems”, Kirill presented elegantly how he unraveled the processes of interest groups in the EU common fisheries policy. Besides reviewing multiple frameworks for analyzing policy processes, Kirill used process tracing as a method to identify causal mechanisms for the success of interest groups (e.g. coalition building) and developed an agent-based model to analyze how the participation of conflicting interest groups in policy-making can influence the sustainability of a fishery (PoliSEA).
The opponent was Scott Page, Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science and Economics at the University of Michigan, who confronted Kirill less with opposing views or critiques but with curious, well formulated questions which were enlightening to follow from the audience. He opened with the question of what makes a policy sustainable, in difference to efficient, and continued with several questions about the complexity of the system to govern. So how much complexity do we want or view as enough before its appearance becomes just noise to us? Well, it’s a learning experience and past events of failure make us (hopefully) adapt and learn to embrace just that much complexity of the system around us that makes us prepare for future unexpected events.
For the final question, Scott Page asked Kirill about his opinion whether governance of complex systems should rather be by simple rules or eventually through 30000 pages long documents (of the kind that were recently produced in the EU). The answer was quite clear: Simple, generic rules should apply for the large system, while allowing for more specified, adapted implementation in the local system. Well put – let’s hope that those insights will also reach policy-makers for complex systems.
The examining committee composed of Annica Sandström from University of Luleå, Giangiacomo Bravo from Leinnaeus University and Sebastian Linke from University of Gothenburg followed up with interesting questions about the concept of social-ecological systems and the different political science frameworks Kirill used in his PhD.
After three hours of interesting discussions, the committee awarded Kirill a well deserved PhD!
(entry edited and pictures contributed by Romina Martin, Maja Schlüter and Maria Mancilla Garcia)