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4. The Contextual Interaction Theory

This chapter is taken from Complex and Dynamic Implementation Processes: Analyzing the Renaturalization of the Dutch Regge River by Hans Bressers and Cheryl de Boer

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Chapter4.jpgRiver renaturalization projects are complex implementation processes related to multiple policies. Often they require many years to develop and thus work under a dynamic set of circumstances. In this chapter we will explain Contextual Interaction Theory as our conceptual lens for studying these implementation processes.

First we will describe the nature of policy implementation as a multi-actor interaction process and the main approaches to policy implementation in policy research. We will further discuss the general evaluation criteria with which we assess the renaturalization projects. We then specify how the many possible factors affecting the interaction process can be organized and simplified as the actors in the process and their characteristics are the main force driving the implementation. These form the ultimate setting of the process.

 The characteristics of the actors are influenced by factors from various layers of context. One of the layers of context is the structural context which involves the elements of governance and the relevant property and use rights. Previous research showed that the extent (completeness) and especially the coherence – together making up the degree of integration of this context – are extremely relevant for guarding the sustainability of river basins.

While we identified river renaturalization processes as complex (multiple sectors and scales) and dynamic (long time horizon) processes, striving for improvement rather than protection of what is already there, the actors involved do not take the setting of the process for granted. Rather they try to influence not only the course of the process but also its setting over the longer period. This is done by using externally oriented strategies that often are forms of boundary spanning, spanning scales, times and sectors. These adaptive strategies can be reactive, but also responsive and even proactive. To be able to do this requires various capabilities of actor organizations that can be summarized as receptivity. To increase receptivity organizations can use internal strategies.

Using various internal as well as external strategies as an adaptive response to complex and dynamic contexts requires a structural context that allows or even stimulates one to do so. This is not self-evident because often governance aspects such as policies and rules are more control than empowerment focused. Thus, especially with dynamic and change oriented projects, the flexibility of the governance context is important alongside the influence of the extent and coherence. Lastly the degree of change that is striven for also matters and we call this the intensity of the governance context.

Download the full pdf of this chapter here:

4. The Contextual Interaction Theory

Other chapters from this book:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

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Making Space for the River - Jeroen Frank Warner, Arwin van Buuren and Jurian Edelenbos
 Publication Date: Nov 2012 - ISBN - 9781780401126

Groundwater Management in Large River Basins - Milan Dimkic, Heinz-Jurgen Brauch and Michael Kavanaugh
 Publication Date: Nov 2008 - ISBN - 9781843391906

Environmental Hydrogeology - Philip E. LaMoreaux, Mostafa M. Soliman, Bashir A. Memon, James W. LaMoreaux & Fakhry A. Assaad 
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