Policy Change

Developing middle-range theory of adaptation and change in SES governance.

Keywords: middle-range theory, causal mechanism, policy process, adaptation, comparative research, agent-based modelling

Project participants: Kirill Orach, Maja Schlüter

Funders: ERC

About the project

The project builds upon past research on policymaking in SES and interest politics in fisheries SES (Interest Groups) and expands the scope to include causal mechanisms of policy change beyond interest group interactions. The focus of the project is on fisheries SES which are well-researched, however the research on the topic has often focused on the structure of fisheries governance and its properties rather than the process of governing itself, and how such structures may influence behavior of policy participants. We argue that policy change is an emergent process and in order to determine how to govern fisheries in a sustainable and adaptive way, we need to understand the social ecological mechanisms, patterns through which change may permeate the political system, under specific conditions.

The purpose of the project is to develop middle-range theory of adaptation and change in SES governance, focusing on fisheries SES, with ambition to expand the scope to other social ecological systems. The project will analyze and compare existing case studies of change in fisheries policy across the world, aiming to develop hypotheses on key factors and conditions of favorable or unfavorable adaptations, supplementing the data with expert interviews to move from association between factors and outcomes to reconstruct causal pathways that gave rise to policy change. As the next step, based on the previously developed ABM of policy process (PoliSEA), the project will seek to further test the hypotheses and better understand the conditions under which changes in SES may trigger or lead to policy responses.