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Exploring the Promise of Actor Analysis for Environmental Policy Analysis: Lessons from Four Cases in Water Resources Management

Leon M. Hermans, Delft University of Technology


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A persistent challenge for the development of well-informed and sound environmental policies is to improve the connection between environmental experts, decision makers, and other involved actors. Answers are sought in processes for social learning and adaptive co-management that engage experts, decision makers, and local actors in an interactive way of policy making. The preparation and organization of such interactive processes is usefully supported by actor analysis, which can help to identify the main actors to be involved in environmental policy making, to locate useful local knowledge, to identify potential conflicts, and to assess the feasibility of different policy measures. I explored the promise that actor analysis holds to support environmental experts in environmental policy analysis activities. I present and discuss the findings from four cases in water resources management. These findings are counterintuitive in that they suggest that environmental experts are more reluctant to use the insights provided by actor analysis than one would expect based on their frequently expressed desire to improve their connection with decision makers. Therefore, I conclude with a discussion of three mechanisms that might explain these findings, as well as their consequences for the future use of actor analysis in environmental policy analysis.

Key words

actor analysis; environmental policy; policy analysis; stakeholder analysis; water resources management

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087