Assessing institutional capacities to adapt to climate change: integrating psychological dimensions in the Adaptive Capacity WheelNatural Hazards and Earth System Science, 13, 3369-3384, 2013Author(s): T. Grothmann, K. Grecksch, M. Winges, and B. SiebenhünerSeveral case studies show that social factors like institutions, perceptions
and social capital strongly affect social capacities to adapt to climate
change. Together with economic and technological development they are
important for building social capacities.
However, there are almost no methodologies for the systematic assessment of
social factors. After reviewing existing methodologies we identify the
Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW) by Gupta et al. (2010), developed for assessing
the adaptive capacity of institutions, as the most comprehensive and
operationalised framework to assess social factors. The ACW differentiates 22
criteria to assess 6 dimensions: variety, learning capacity, room for
autonomous change, leadership, availability of resources, fair governance.
To include important psychological factors we extended the ACW by two
dimensions: "adaptation motivation" refers to actors' motivation to
realise, support and/or promote adaptation to climate; "adaptation belief"
refers to actors' perceptions of realisability and effectiveness of
We applied the extended ACW to assess adaptive capacities of four sectors –
water management, flood/coastal protection, civil protection and regional
planning – in northwestern Germany. The assessments of adaptation
motivation and belief provided a clear added value. The results also revealed
some methodological problems in applying the ACW (e.g. overlap of
dimensions), for which we propose methodological solutions.