An agent-based model of policy adaptation to social-ecological change

PoliSEA is an agent-based model, developed to understand the relationship between policy and social-ecological dynamics. More specifically, it explores how interactions between key policy actors (namely, interest groups and decision-makers) give rise to policy adaptation and change or unsustainable lock-ins.

We use our empirical work on 2013 EU Common Fisheries Policy reform, frameworks and theories of the policy process and interest group influence to design and inform the model. PoliSEA represents a social-ecological system ‘to-be-governed’ and a political system, in which decision-maker determines which policy instrument to apply and to what extent. Interest groups perceive changes in social-ecological system and attempt to influence decision-maker according to their policy preferences. Their success depends on interest group resources, decision-maker’s trust or preference for particular interest. Through interactions with interest groups, decision-maker then can choose to adopt a new policy (e.g. habitat conservation in contrast to fishing quotas), adjust existing policy (change quotas) or maintain it. Such coupled SES-policy dynamics over time result in social-ecological regime shifts or sustainable use of resource. PoliSEA thus helps us understand how interest group presence and sensitivity of decision-makers to interest group influence can produce such desirable and undesirable outcomes.

Keywords: Agent-based modelling | policy adaptation | fishery policy | interest group
People: Kirill Orach in collaboration with Maja Schlüter and Andreas Duit
Methods: Agent-based modelling
Funding: ERC