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Fit, Interplay, and Scale: A Diagnosis

Arild Vatn, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Paul Vedeld, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences


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Developing institutions to handle human–environment interactions well is important. In relation to that, the theory of resource regimes, and the themes of fit, interplay, and scale—as originating not least in the work of Oran Young—are core. His work is very impressive. At the same time we observe two sets of issues where we think further development is needed. The first relates to the ontological underpinning of Young’s conceptual framework. The second set of issues concerns the definitions of and the relationships between the concepts of fit, interplay, and scale. Regarding the former, we emphasize issues related to "marrying" different theories about human action. Regarding the latter, we note that while the three concepts have a lot of practical appeal, there are still some important challenges surfacing, not least when using them in empirical research. We analyze three challenges: the definitions of the concepts; their internal overlap; and finally, the way environmental regimes are defined and understood as opposed to the wider institutional context of the economy. Our paper offers some direction for how to move forward on the issues specified.

Key words

fit; environmental governance; human action; human–environment interactions; institutions; international environmental agreements; interplay; Oran Young; rational choice; resource regimes; scale; social construction

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087