Rethinking strategy in environmental governance

Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen, Monica Gruezmacher, Martijn Duineveld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This paper presents a novel framework for analyzing the formation and effects of strategies in environmental governance. It combines elements of management studies, strategy as practice thinking, social systems theory and evolutionary governance theory. It starts from the notion that governance and its constitutive elements are constantly evolving and that the formation of strategies and the effect strategies produce should be understood as elements of these ongoing dynamics. Strategy is analyzed in its institutional and narrative dimensions. The concept of reality effects is introduced to grasp the various ways in which discursive and material changes can be linked to strategy and to show that the identification of strategies can result from prior intention as well as a posteriori ascription. The observation of reality effects can enhance reality effects, and so does the observation of strategy. Different modes and levels of observation bring in different strategic potentialities: observation of self, of the governance context, and of the external environment. The paper synthesizes these ideas into a framework that conceptualizes strategies as productive fictions that require constant adaptation. They never entirely work out as expected or hoped for, yet these productive fictions are necessary and effective parts of planning and steering efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-708
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy & Planning
Volume22
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Strategy
  • reality effects
  • observation
  • productive fiction
  • environmental governance

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