From pilots to policy change. Researching the pilot paradox within internally and externally successful drougth adaptation pilots in Dutch dry rural areas

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Today’s climate adaptation policies inherently include the development of innovations. To realize this, pilot projects are used as innovation instruments that can limit the impact of change. When the innovation that was desired is reached, the aim of many pilots is to scale the results up in order to realize a broader impact. However, a paradoxical relation exists between conditions that contribute to the ability of the pilot to reach the previously stated innovative outcomes (the internal success), and on the other hand the ability of the pilot to scale up the innovation (the external success). This phenomenon is called the ‘pilot paradox’, and was initially developed as a qualitative phenomenon. This research focused on trying to empirically test the pilot paradox on a larger scale, by means of Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Three QCA analyses were carried out individually to examine which conditions contribute to 1) the internal success, 2) the scaling up within the carrying organisations and 3) the scaling out to external organisations and new contexts. By taking on a comparative view, this research tried to identify patterns that pointed towards the pilot paradox, as well as potential pathways to get around the pilot paradox.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen