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Management Cybernetics: A New Institutional Framework for Coastal Management

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This article analyzes institutional arrangements for the delivery of coastal programs through a new way of thinking about their evolution and structure. The notion of three distinct "dimensions" describing the phases in the evolution of institutional arrangements is introduced. The notion of dimensions is developed from conceptualizing about how institutional arrangements are diagrammed. This allows the visualization of how individual institutions and key stakeholders relate to each other in the delivery of coastal programs, how effective these relationships are, and how their relationships could be redesigned. "Dimensional thinking" enables the re-examination of existing institutional design of coastal programs and how these can evolve to meet the challenges of the new millennium. It is concluded that institutional arrangements have grown from a single dimensional view, where institutions (mainly governmental) delivered programs in isolation, through to the present second dimension where agency programs are managed through coordinating bodies and through coastal management plans. It is argued that a third dimension of institutional arrangements, one that recognizes and embraces the rapid pace of change in this century, will be needed that is aligned by themes rather than by organizational structure. To illustrate a third dimension a visualization tool is developed drawing from management cybernetics. It recognizes the increasing importance of formal and informal networks in relation to traditional modernist hierarchical management by recognizing multiple stakeholders (government at all levels, industry, advocacy groups, conservation interests, and the broader community) and their degree of mutual dependence. Dimensional thinking has the potential to institutionalize the interaction between these multiple stakeholders to ensure the effective delivery of coastal programs in the new millennium. A single answer to what the third dimension of coastal management program evolution should include is not presented. Rather, an approach is presented that allows coastal managers to move forward in the debate on redesigning coastal programs to meet today's complex suite of issues, values, and interests. An experimental case study from Western Australia is used to illustrate the potential application of the dimensional thinking to coastal management institutional design in that State's coastal program.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Kay Consulting, Western Australia, Australia 2: Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada 3: Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia 4: Department of Premier & Cabinet, Government of Western Australia, West Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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