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Success and evolution of a boundary organization


Leith, P and Haward, M and Rees, C and Ogier, E, Success and evolution of a boundary organization, Science, Technology and Human Values, 41, (3) pp. 375-401. ISSN 0162-2439 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Author(s)

DOI: doi:10.1177/0162243915601900


This article challenges the idea that success of boundary organizations is marked primarily by the stability of the science–policy interface. We review key theory in the literature on boundary work and boundary organizations. We then present a case, the Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) in South East Tasmania, Australia, to explore the evolution of successful boundary organization. We detail how a science-oriented program of work achieved success, through early wins that cemented its support and created a relatively stable entity able to navigate the expansion of its remit from managing controversy to implementing an integrated, systems approach to coastal zone management. The creation of "safe spaces" enabled contentious situations to be negotiated through well-established relationships and processes. The interaction among these elements, supported by exemplary leadership, was critical to reframing the problem. We suggest that it is through these abilities to navigate controversy and mediate among divergent interests, while maintaining a committed focus on science, that boundary organizations can succeed. Success in this context is achieved through using credible science to reframe problems. Success is further indicated not just by surviving periodic controversies but by being able to benefit from them, building legitimacy among partners and stakeholders through successfully navigating unforeseen events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:boundary work, boundary organisation, science, environmental management
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public policy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Leith, P (Dr Peat Leith)
UTAS Author:Haward, M (Professor Marcus Haward)
UTAS Author:Rees, C (Mr Chris Rees)
UTAS Author:Ogier, E (Dr Emily Ogier)
ID Code:102824
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:23
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2015-09-07
Last Modified:2017-11-17

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