Advancing adaptive governance of social-ecological systems through theoretical multiplicity

Authors Karpouzoglou, T.; Dewulf, A.; Clark, J.
Year of Publication 2016
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Environmental Science & Policy
Volume 57
Issue 7
Pagination 1-9
Open Access Yes


In recent years there has been rising scientific and policy interest in the adaptive governance of social ecological systems. A systematic literature review of adaptive governance research during the period 2005-2014, demonstrates a vibrant debate taking place that spans a variety of empirical and theoretical approaches. The particular strength of adaptive governance is that it provides a theoretical lens for research that combines the analyses of novel governance capacities such as adaptive capacity, collaboration, scaling, knowledge and learning. As a way to give greater depth and analytical rigour to future studies over the next decade and beyond, we highlight the added value of theoretical multiplicity (i.e., focusing on the combination of theories to address complex problems). We argue that theoretical multiplicity can encourage stronger synergies between adaptive governance and other theoretical approaches and can help address epistemologically grey areas in adaptive governance scholarship, such as power and politics, inclusion and equity, short term and long term change, the relationship between public policy and adaptive governance. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.