Ola Tjornbo

Archipelago consultants
Ola Smiling

Ola Tjornbo's research interests are primarily focused on social innovation, social-ecological transformation, governance and complexity, and social media and virtual social networks.

Research interests 

Ola's work centres on the transformation of complex social-ecological systems and social media.  His work combines governance theory and complexity theory to help us understand how we can better manage challenges such as climate change and sustainability. He also uses social innovation theory to explore how our governance systems can change and adapt to a changing external environment and what role social media might play in such transformations.

Current projects

  • A collaboration with the MaRS Solutions Lab to provide research support for the Ontario Food Lab, a multi-stakeholder collaboration to create innovative projects that build the sustainability of the Ontario Food system.
  • The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) history project to compile historical case studies of key social innovations.
  • Social innovation and social media, exploring how different social media platforms can be used to support different parts of a social innovation process.


Ola Tjornbo has a MSci from the University of Stockholm in Natural Resource Management, Governance and Globalization and a PhD from the Balsillie School of International Affairs. For the last five years he has had an affiliation with Social Innovation Generation at the University of Waterloo, first as a McConnell fellow of social innovation and currently as a post-doctoral researcher at the Waterloo Institute of Social Innovation and Resilience. 


Westley, F., O. Tjornbo, L. Schultz, P. Olsson, C. Folke, B. Crona and Ö. Bodin. A Theory of Transformative Agency in Linked Social-Ecological Systems. Ecology and Society 18(3). 

O. Tjornbo, , and F. Westley. 2012. Gamechangers: The Big Green Challenge and the Role of Challenge Grants in Social Innovation. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship 3(2): 166-183.

Moore, M-L., and O. Tjornbo. 2012. From Coastal Timber Supply Area to Great Bear Rainforest: Exploring power in a social-ecological governance innovation. Ecology and Society 17(4).

Riddell, D., F. Westley, and O. Tjornbo. 2012. Agency and Innovation In a Phase of Turbulent Change: Conservation in the Great Bear Rainforest. Golden-Biddle and Dutton eds. Using a Positive Lens to Explore Social Change and Organization. Routledge Academic.

Moore, M-L., Westley, F.R., O. Tjornbo. and C. Holroyd. 2011. The Loop, the Lens, and the Lesson: Using resilience theory to examine public policy and social innovation. Chapter 4 in: Nicholls, A., and Murdock, A. (eds) (2011). Social Innovation. Palgrave MacMillan.

Tjornbo, O., F. Westley and D. Riddell. 2010. Case Study: The Great Bear Rainforest.

Social Innovation Generation Case Study (PDF).  

Tjornbo, O. and F. Westley. 2010. A primer on SiG Case Writing. Social Innovation Generation. 

Curriculum vitae

Ola Tjornbo's academic C.V. (PDF)

Ola Tjornbo's non-academic C.V. (PDF)