Crossing trails in the marshes: rigidity and flexibility in the governance of the Danube Delta

Kristof Van Assche*, Raoul Beunen, Joren Jacobs, Petruta Teampau

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    31 Citations (Web of Science)


    In this paper, we revisit the utility of the concepts of path dependence and interdependence for the analysis of participatory environmental governance. We investigate the evolution of environmental governance in the Romanian Danube Delta, and, starting from an observation of problematic citizen participation, demonstrate how specific patterns of path and interdependence shaped both the present situation and the reform options. For the Delta, it is argued that direct citizen participation, without working with other institutions, would not solve the problems observed, but would rather reinforce unwanted informal institutions. Theoretically, we utilise a combination of path dependence theory and social systems theory, allowing a grasp of both rigidity and flexibility in the evolution of governance systems. Empirically, expert and lay interviews, long-term observation and analysis of policy documents underpin our analysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)997-1018
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2011


    • path dependence
    • interdependence
    • environmental governance
    • Danube Delta
    • social systems
    • institutions


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