An open dialogue culture and transformative policy process for sustainability: exploratory case study of Finland

Hidenori Nakamura, Mikko Rask, Matti Kojo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper develops a perspective of open dialogue culture to view policy processes encompassing the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. Based on the Open Dialogue approach in mental health care developed in Finland and globally extended, the authors identify the core principles of open dialogue that could facilitate an inclusive, reflective transformation to sustainable development. Key principles include dialogism, and tolerance of uncertainty. In the study, the authors analyse the open dialogue culture in four policy sectors and cross-sectoral initiatives at the local and national levels in Finland since 1980s. The four sectors are mental health care, maternity and childcare, basic education, and spent nuclear fuel disposal. Based on the findings of the retrospective study, this research suggests that an open dialogue culture can be cultivated effectively through systematic training of experts and leaders, and as the Open Dialogue approach suggests, by creating spaces for non-hierarchic dialogues between experts and citizens. Deeply rooted power asymmetries appear among the primary hindering factors. More research on the applicability of the principles of Open Dialogue is needed to study their relevance in the context of sustainability policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-68
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Deliberation
  • Governance
  • Open Dialogue
  • Participation
  • Resilience
  • SDGs

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science


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