The control versus resilience rationale for managing systems under uncertainty

Arjen Y. Hoekstra (Corresponding Author), Rianne Bijlsma, Martinus S. Krol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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We compare two rationales for the management of social-ecological systems under uncertainty: control and resilience. The first focuses at system performance, the second at system capacity to cope with change. The two schools of thought promote their own legitimacy, but undertake little effort to transcend their own perspective. Though, different scholars have pointed at the necessity of combining control and resilience for managing a system. We review the literature on control and resilience, synthesize the work in these fields into one coherent conceptual framework and reflect on the question whether control and resilience strategies can be reconciled or whether inevitable trade-offs are to be made. Based on a literature review, we develop a framework contrasting both rationales through their preferred (contrary) system attributes. Next, we discuss the operationalization of these system properties for policy development. Policies will generally reflect elements of both control and resilience. There will be trade-offs between preferred system attributes, where development of resilience restricts the development of possible control (and vice versa). The conceptual framework introduced provides a 'language' for contrasting and possibly (partly) reconciling the control and resilience rationales. Such a language is crucial for a meaningful policy discourse between actors, because it helps in understanding the implications of different rationales and in comparing alternative policies in terms of control and resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103002
JournalEnvironmental research letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2018


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