Managing boundaries over time in integrative planning processes. A process analysis of boundary work in two cases of multifunctional land use

Saskia Van Broekhoven*, Frank Boons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Measures that integrate social, economic and ecologic land use functions have increasingly raised the interest of scholars and practitioners concerned with sustainability. However, achieving effective integration involves important governance challenges. One challenge is that actors need to work across social, cognitive and physical boundaries. This article studies how actors span, but also challenge, defend and construct boundaries over time during integrative processes, and what temporal sequences of boundary actions help to realize effective integration. It does so with a comparative longitudinal analysis of two cases of Multifunctional Land Use. We find three main patterns: First, to bridge boundaries, they first need to be created, strengthened and explicated, whilst also connecting actors where possible. Second, after a period of spanning and challenging, reconstructing boundaries can help to keep the process manageable, provide safety and maintain autonomy. Third, challenging boundaries is often necessary to realize integration, even when this stirs up conflicts and internal discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-611
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022


  • Boundaries
  • boundary spanning
  • governance
  • integration
  • multifunctional land use
  • process analysis

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