SP 1: Management and Transition Framework (MTF)

The Management and Transition Framework (MTF) facilitates analyses of water systems, water management processes and transitions to adaptive water management. It integrates concepts from a variety of fields dealing with the characterisation of social systems (actor networks, institutions, governance), the behaviour of individual actors, interactions between social and ecological systems, as well as the dynamics of societal systems (with an emphasis on social learning and institutional change).

The MTF is designed in a modular and flexible way to facilitate analyses at different scales and in various contexts. It mainly provides two views of water systems:

  1. The MTF Triple Loop Diagram is a process-oriented view focusing on the learning processes in management. Besides the conventional management cycle, which comprises steps from initial goal setting to the evaluation of implemented measures, it identifies learning cycles as essential for the better management of water resources. Learning cycles are platforms that involve actors from outside the established management regime (stakeholders) in a loosely regulated process, in which alternative approaches to the dominant management practices and paradigm are discussed. Such learning cycles facilitate social learning, i.e. they provide the possibility to achieve mutual understanding among affected actors, to create a joint problem perspective, to develop “out-of-the-box” ideas and to test alternative approaches in small-scale experiments. Social learning not only expands the options for water management, but also helps to build consensus for goals and measures. The MTF Triple Loop Diagram distinguishes between three types of learning. Whereas learning in the conventional policy cycle aims to improve existing measures, social learning can take place at two levels: double loop learning (reframing) comprises looking for alternative management approaches and often involves a broader, more integrated perspective than traditional management. Triple loop learning (transforming) goes one step further and involves change in underlying values and beliefs.
  2. The MTF Class Diagram is a static view of the various components in a water system and their relationships. It explicitly takes into account the complexity of the water system and the mutual dependencies of its elements. On the one hand, the MTF Class Diagram considers components that shape the general setting for water management, such as ecosystems, societal systems and technical infrastructure. On the other hand, it understands water management as a structured interaction of actors. A focus is placed on the actors involved in water management and their interactions in varying situations, on regulative aspects in the water system, such as formal and informal institutions, as well as the strength of different - sometimes competing - management paradigms. Further aspects related to human perception and behaviour are also considered (e.g. mental models, situated knowledge).

The two views are linked, since the actors and elements involved in the phases of the Triple Loop Diagram can be examined in greater detail using the Class Diagram. This enhances understanding of the effect of structural properties on a process, and vice versa, and ultimately helps to derive conclusions about factors that contribute to a more adaptive management of water resources.

Simplified MTF Triple Loop Diagram
Simplified MTF Class Diagram
Simplified MTF Triple Loop Diagram Simplified MTF Class Diagram

MTF Special Issue

SP 1 is presented in a special issue on the MTF in the journal Environmental Science & Policy. It comprises contributions that explain the conceptual basis of the MTF in depth and illustrate how it can be applied.


Scientific articles

  1. Pahl-Wostl, C., Holtz, G., Kastens, B. and Knieper, C., 2010. Analyzing complex water governance regimes: the Management and Transition Framework, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 571-581. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.08.006
  2. Hovelynck, J., Dewulf, A., François, G. and Taillieu, T., 2010. Interdisciplinary knowledge integration through group model building: recognizing dualities and triadizing the conversation. Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 582-591. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.04.002
  3. Knieper, C., Kastens, B., Holtz, G. and Pahl-Wostl, C., 2010. Analysing water governance in heterogeneous case studies - Experiences with a database approach, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 592-603. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.09.002
  4. Sendzimir, J., Flachner, Z, Pahl-Wostl, C. and Knieper, C., 2010. Stalled regime transition in the upper Tisza River Basin: the dynamics of linked action situations, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 604-619. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.09.005
  5. Schlüter, M., Hirsch, D. and Pahl-Wostl, C., 2010. Coping with change: responses of the Uzbek water management regime to socio-economic transition and global change, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 620-636. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.09.001
  6. Bisaro, A, Hinkel, J. and Kranz, N., 2010. Multilevel water, biodiversity and climate adaptation governance: evaluating adaptive management in Lesotho, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 637-647. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.08.004
  7. Kranz, N., Menniken, T. and Hinkel, J., 2010. Climate change adaptation strategies in the Mekong and Orange-Senqu basins: What determines the state-of-play? Environmental Science & Policy 13 (7), pp. 648-659. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.09.003