Climatic Change

, Volume 139, Issue 3–4, pp 381–395 | Cite as

The role of boundary organizations in climate change adaptation from the perspective of municipal practitioners

  • Alexandra GrahamEmail author
  • Carrie L. Mitchell


City planners have an opportunity to act as agents of change to build resilience within their cities to respond to climate change. This article builds on urban climate governance research and organizational change theory to focus on how city planners’ partnerships with boundary organizations influence adaptation planning. At the root of effective urban climate governance is the integration of science and policy. Boundary organizations offer a governance approach that disseminates knowledge, builds capacity, and engages more participants in the adaptation planning process. However, little is known about how these partnerships foster adaptation at the local scale. Using a case study in Metro Vancouver, this study investigated how boundary organizations can better influence municipal adaptation action. The results of this study demonstrated that boundary organizations were perceived as more influential when they were credible, legitimate, and salient as well as when they provided action-oriented support. Ultimately, this paper contributes to the literature by illustrating how boundary organizations operate at the sub-regional scale to foster adaptation and proposing tangible practices to improve the effectiveness of partnerships.


Climate Change Adaptation Adaptation Planning Participatory Action Research Climate Adaptation Boundary Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper was prepared with the financial support of the International Development Research Centre and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded project, Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR): Building Adaptive Capacity for Managing Climate Change in Coastal Megacities. We would like to thank Brent Doberstein, Deborah Harford, Sarah Burch, Sarah Brown, and Ian Rowlands for thoughtful comments during the research and writing process, and Philip R. Berke for his insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper presented at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning conference in Texas, USA. We would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful critique of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1799_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (83 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Planning, University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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