Adaptive water management and policy learning in a changing climate: a formal comparative analysis of eight water management regimes in Europe, Africa and Asia

Patrick Huntjens*, Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Benoit Rihoux, Maja Schlüter, Zsuzsanna Flachner, Susana Neto, Romana Koskova, Chris Dickens, Isah Nabide Kiti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article provides an evidence-based and policy-relevant contribution to understanding the phenomenon of policy learning and its structural constraints in the field of river basin management, in particular related to coping with current and future climatic hazards such as floods and droughts. This has been done by a formal comparative analysis of eight water management regimes, by using multi-value qualitative comparative analysis, focusing on the relationship between regime characteristics (as explanatory variables) and different levels of policy learning (as output value). This research has revealed the importance of the socio-cognitive dimension, as an essential emerging property of complex adaptive governance systems. This socio-cognitive dimension depends on a specific set of structural conditions; in particular, better integrated cooperation structures in combination with advanced information management are the key factors leading towards higher levels of policy learning. Furthermore, this research highlights a number of significant positive correlations between different regime elements, thereby identifying a stabilizing mechanism in current management regimes, and this research also highlights the necessity of fine-tuning centralized control with bottom-up approaches. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-163
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes

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