Co-productive governance: A relational framework for adaptive governance

Carina Wyborn*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    137 Citations (Scopus)


    Adaptive governance focuses our attention on the relationships between science and management, whereby the so-called 'gaps' between these groups are seen to hinder effective adaptive responses to biophysical change. Yet the relationships between science and governance, knowledge and action, remain under theorized in discussions of adaptive governance, which largely focuses on abstract design principles or preferred institutional arrangements. In contrast, the metaphor of co-production highlights the social and political processes through which science, policy, and practice co-evolve. Co-production is invoked as a normative goal (. Mitchell et al., 2004) and analytical lens (. Jasanoff, 2004a,b), both of which provide useful insight into the processes underpinning adaptive governance. This paper builds on and integrates these disparate views to reconceptualize adaptive governance as a process of co-production. I outline an alternative conceptual framing, 'co-productive governance', that articulates the context, knowledge, process, and vision of governance. I explore these ideas through two cases of connectivity conservation, which draws on conservation science to promote collaborative cross-scale governance. This analysis highlights the ways in which the different contexts of these cases produced very different framings and responses to the same propositions of science and governance. Drawing on theoretical and empirical material, co-productive governance moves beyond long standing debates that institutions can be rationally crafted or must emerge from context resituate adaptive governance in a more critical and contextualized space. This reframing focuses on the process of governance through an explicit consideration of how normative considerations shape the interactions between knowledge and power, science and governance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-67
    Number of pages12
    JournalGlobal Environmental Change
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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