Unpacking "participation" in the adaptive management of social ecological systems: A critical review

Lindsay C. Stringer, Andrew J. Dougill, Evan Fraser, Klaus Hubacek, Christina Prell, Mark Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

479 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptive management has the potential to make environmental management more democratic through the involvement of different stakeholders. In this article, we examine three case studies at different scales that followed adaptive management processes, critically reflecting upon the role of stakeholder participation in each case. Specifically, we examine at which stages different types of stakeholders can play key roles and the ways that each might be involved. We show that a range of participatory mechanisms can be employed at different stages of the adaptive cycle, and can work together to create conditions for social learning and favorable outcomes for diverse stakeholders. This analysis highlights the need for greater reflection on case study research in order to further refine participatory processes within adaptive management. This should not only address the shortcomings and successes of adaptive management as a form of democratic environmental governance, but should also unpack the links between science, institutions, knowledge, and power.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • adaptive management
  • democratic governance
  • participation
  • stakeholder involvement
  • ecosystem management
  • resource-management
  • citizen participation
  • sustainability
  • knowledge
  • comanagement
  • conservation
  • mechanisms
  • Australia
  • Pitfalls


Dive into the research topics of 'Unpacking "participation" in the adaptive management of social ecological systems: A critical review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this