Achieving a Climate-Neutral Campus: A Psychological Analysis of the Participation Process with the Stage Model of Participation

  • Stefan Zimmermann
  • Thomas Bäumer
  • Patrick Müller
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


The complexity of social transformations requires participative approaches to research. One such approach to meeting this need is the so-called “Living Lab”, in which the participation of all stakeholders lies at the heart of the research process. This article presents a stage model as a way of describing the psychological aspects involved in participatory processes in an environmental context. The purpose of the model is to show the psychological parameters underlying a successful participatory process as a basis for finding suitable participatory measures for different project settings. It is the aim of this article to introduce the elaborated model with its different levels of environmental participation as well as to demonstrate its application. Three case studies demonstrating the application of the model are presented from the “climate-neutral city campus” Living Lab at the University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart. The case studies show participation opportunities using (1) interviews with employees about sustainability measures, (2) the integration of sustainability-related topics into teaching, and (3) the support of mobile apps for achieving climate-neutrality. So far, three important findings have emerged: (1) Depending on the degree of involvement, different forms of participation are appropriate. (2) Participation at higher levels of involvement is difficult to achieve when people’s motivations at the lower levels are not adequately addressed. (3) The participatory process in the environmental context can be described using the proposed model and it provides useful insights how to better implement appropriate measures in order to achieve social transformations.


Participation Environmental psychology Environmental awareness Procedural fairness Self-determination theory Intrinsic motivation 



This research within EnSign project is founded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg, Germany. We also thank our reviewers for their helpful comments regarding an earlier version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Zimmermann
    • 1
  • Thomas Bäumer
    • 1
  • Patrick Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Business PsychologyHochschule für Technik Stuttgart (University of Applied Sciences)StuttgartGermany

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