Archetype analysis in sustainability research: Methodological portfolio and analytical frontiers

Abstract

In sustainability research, archetype analysis reveals patterns of factors and processes that repeatedly shape social-ecological systems. These patterns help improve our understanding of global concerns, including vulnerability, land management, food security, and governance. During the last decade, the portfolio of methods used to investigate archetypes has been growing rapidly. However, these methods differ widely in their epistemological and normative underpinnings, data requirements, and suitability to address particular research purposes. Therefore, guidance is needed for systematically choosing methods in archetype analysis. We synthesize strengths and weaknesses of key methods used to identify archetypes. Demonstrating that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, we discuss advantages and shortcomings of a range of methods for archetype analysis in sustainability research along gradients that capture the treatment of causality, normativity, spatial variations, and temporal dynamics. Based on this discussion, we highlight seven analytical frontiers that bear particular potential for tackling methodological limitations. As a milestone in archetype analysis, our synthesis supports researchers in reflecting on methodological implications, including opportunities and limitations related to causality, normativity, space, and time considerations in view of specific purposes and research questions. This enables innovative research designs in future archetype analysis, thereby contributing to the advancement of sustainability research and decision-making.

Description
Keywords
decision making, frontier region, global change, innovation, research work, sustainability, temporal distribution, Archetypical, Global change, Knowledge transfer, Land system, Pattern, Review, Socio-ecological system, Up-scaling
Citation
Citation
Sietz, D., Frey, U., Roggero, M., Gong, Y., Magliocca, N., Tan, R., et al. (2019). Archetype analysis in sustainability research: Methodological portfolio and analytical frontiers (Version publishedVersion, Vol. 24). Version publishedVersion, Vol. 24. Stockholm : Resilience Alliance. https://doi.org//10.5751/ES-11103-240334