Theory and Research to Study the Legal and Institutional Foundations of Adaptive Governance

  • Daniel A. DeCaroEmail author
  • Brian C. Chaffin
  • Edella Schlager
  • Ahjond S. Garmestani
  • J. B. Ruhl


Adaptation to major social and ecological changes requires the participation, innovation, social learning, and political deliberation of many stakeholders, doing many different governance activities at different scales. Legal and institutional systems set the ground rules for this governance activity, establishing boundaries and opportunities for widespread innovation and cooperation. However, the enabling conditions for adaptive governance are poorly understood, making it difficult to facilitate. Candidate design principles that describe enabling conditions for adaptive environmental governance are proposed. Research opportunities are outlined to study the effects of these factors in different social-ecological systems and to further refine the principles.


Adaptive governance Climate change Design principles Environmental law Social-ecological resilience State-reinforced self-governance Water governance 



This work was developed in part under the Adaptive Water Governance Project, funded by the US National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding from the US National Science Foundation, NSF DBI-1052875. The views set forth by contributors to this volume represent their own and do not represent the views of any public or private entity the contributor is affiliated with.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel A. DeCaro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian C. Chaffin
    • 2
  • Edella Schlager
    • 3
  • Ahjond S. Garmestani
    • 4
  • J. B. Ruhl
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Urban and Public Affairs, Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.W. A. Frank College of Forestry and ConservationUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  3. 3.School of Government and Public PolicyThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of NebrasksaLincolnUSA
  5. 5.Vanderbilt University Law SchoolNashvilleUSA

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