Transformational capacity and the influence of place and identity

N. A. Marshall, S. E. Park, W. N. Adger, K. Brown, S. M. Howden

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223 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change is altering the productivity of natural resources with far-reaching implications for those who depend on them. Resource-dependent industries and communities need the capacity to adapt to a range of climate risks if they are to remain viable. In some instances, the scale and nature of the likely impacts means that transformations of function or structure will be required. Transformations represent a switch to a distinct new system where a different suite of factors become important in the design and implementation of response strategies. There is a critical gap in knowledge on understanding transformational capacity and its influences. On the basis of current knowledge on adaptive capacity we propose four foundations for measuring transformational capacity: (1)how risks and uncertainty are managed, (2)the extent of skills in planning, learning and reorganizing, (3)the level of financial and psychological flexibility to undertake change and (4)the willingness to undertake change. We test the influence of place attachment and occupational identity on transformational capacity using the Australian peanut industry, which is presently assessing significant structural change in response to predicted climatic changes. Survey data from 88% of peanut farmers in Queensland show a strong negative correlation between transformational capacity and both place attachment and occupational attachment, suggesting that whilst these factors may be important positive influences on the capacity to adapt to incremental change, they act as barriers to transformational change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number034022
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2012


  • adaptive capacity
  • agriculture
  • barriers to change
  • climate change
  • natural resource management
  • resource dependence
  • social resilience
  • socio-ecological systems

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