Notes on Action


Politicians give advisers little time. Not seldom only five minutes. How can advisers cope with this challenge? The stocks framework offers an answer.


In ancient philosophy, practice existed only to create space for the wise to contemplate theory. In the ideal of modern science, however, science is an abstract system of cognition, providing the basis for technological control of nature.

The stocks framework is an attempt to overcome the gap between theory and practice, between academics and practitioners. In contrast to Mainstream Economics, Ecological Economics emphasizes the role of time in politics by examining the dynamics of economic, social and environmental stocks and their relationships. Stocks may be material or immaterial, such as a social institution like legislation.

Our applied example examines the development of sustainable inland shipping policy in Germany. To this end, we proceed in seven steps, starting with the policy aims and relevant facts known about German inland shipping. This enables us to identify the relevant material and immaterial stocks associated and their dynamics. In doing so we can summarise the normative demands placed on German inland shipping policy by the general principle of sustainability and formulate concrete goals. Finally, we propose concrete policy recommendations for the transportation system.

The last chapter describes the stocks framework as a school of long-term thinking. It shows how a practitioner is able to learn to deal with issues over long timescales.

We note that this concept is almost identical to chapters 12 and 13 of the book Sustainability and the Art of Long-Term Thinking by Klauer et al. 2017.

Key Contributers: Hans Christoph BinswangerDieter EwringmannBeate HermannFrank JöstBernd KlauerHenrike KoschelMi-Yong LeePeter MichaelisGeorg Müller-FürstenbergerHorst NiemesThomas PetersenPhilipp GayJ.L.R. ProopsMartin QuaasMatthias RuthStefan SpeckGunter StephanGerhard WagenhalsRalph WinklerFranz Josef WodopiaAngelika Zahrnt