In this appendix we present quotes from the interviews on adaptive management (AM) to illustrate and support the four dimensions of frame difference we discussed in the main text. We use I1 to I8 to refer to the eight interviewees.
When we asked interviewees which scientific discipline they belong to most interviewees were not able or didn’t like to label themselves in terms of one specific discipline (I1, I2, I3, I5, I6). They described different disciplines they had been working in over the course of their career or they mentioned a field that is interdisciplinary in itself (e.g. integrated assessment, management sciences, integrated water management). Some of them (I2, I6) framed their background as consisting of an initial field of education and several fields of interests. Although most interviewees had a background characterized by multiple disciplines they can hardly be considered generalists. There still was a clear difference in background and in the focus of their research.
Text analysis of the interviews led us to the identification of four dimensions of difference in the way the interviewees frame AM. These dimensions are presented with illustrative quotes in the following table and then discussed one by one.
Learning and experimentation
Learning is a recurring aspect in the interviewee's statements about adaptive management (AM). For one interviewee (I7) the learning cycle is what sets AM apart from IWRM, and thus a key aspect in defining AM. Four others (I1, I2, I5, I6) also mention learning as a key element of AM: "AM is learning to manage by managing to learn" (I1); "AM to me has a lot to do with learning, because it was developed in response to failure to learn" (I2); "definitely learning and learning together" (I5); "It is a process of exercising, and act then learn, then learn some more, then act again" (I6). Three interviewees do not refer to learning in their statements about AM.
Interviewees differ in the extent to which they conceive this learning process as consisting mainly of hypothesis testing through policy experiments. Five interviewees mention experimentation, and for two of them, learning pretty much means experimentation: "the learning aspect, where you explicitly try to engage in experiments and learn from that" (I5); "it is a cycle of learning, assessing a problem, then posing hypotheses ... the policy now is the test of your best hypotheses" (I2). The other two (I1, I7) mention experimentation as an additional possibility but a very crucial or viable way of learning in AM. Interestingly, one interviewee (I6) mentions learning but not experimentation, and another (I3) mentions experimentation without learning, indicating again that learning and experimentation are not used as synonyms among the interviewed researchers.
Interviewees differ also in whether they specify the actors of the learning process, or who should be involved in the learning process: e.g. mainly the responsible water managers; or the whole group of scientists, policy makers and stakeholders; or scientists and stakeholders.
Two of the eight interviewees do not refer to uncertainty when asked about their definition of AM. Of these six, one mentions uncertainty only as a marginal aspect (I7), and the rest do include uncertainty as an important aspect of what AM means. However, they do not necessarily mention it in a uniform way.
The interviewees mentioning uncertainty as an important aspect of what AM means, mention it in different ways. The following interviewees stress the unpredictability of the system as follows:
Adaptive management regime versus adaptive capacity
In addition I3 identifies uncertainty with respect to (1) where we are, (2) where we want to go, (3) which path to follow, (4) monitoring. He focuses on uncertainty as a consequence of different views between scientists and/or stakeholders about some key parameters of a change trajectory.
Who adapts to what?
Although the expression used in the interview questions was "adaptive management", three interviewees (I4, I5, I6) draw strongly on the concept of 'adaptive capacity' for explaining their views. Only one interviewee spontaneously uses the term regime while explaining adaptive management.
Two interviewees (I4, I6) claim the term adaptive capacity to be better suited for the project. I4 calls it "the most important goal, the most important thing that you should look at". I6 stresses adaptive capacity as "the ability to adapt" and contrasts this with the notion of a 'regime', because "that seems to imply ... all sorts of assumptions about institutions and so". He argues, for example, that "you can have very effective adaptive management regimes that are completely hierarchical or oligarchical".
When interviewees use the terms ‘adapting’, ‘changing’ or ‘learning’, they often specify additional aspects: (1) who or what is adapting, changing or learning?; (2) what is it that they adapt, change or learn; and (3) in response to what do they adapt, change or learn? The interviewees specify these aspects in different ways. In the above table, we represented these three elements per interviewee, and combined them with the specific terms that the interviewee uses as operators (between < >).
(1) Often the first question is left unanswered in how they talk about adapting, but when specified, the following kinds of things are said to be adapting, changing or learning: 'the system', 'the people', 'the ecosystem', 'the stakeholders', 'scientists and stakeholders' or 'the management system'.
(2) The second question is also left unanswered in many cases, but 'management strategies', ‘management decisions’, 'river flow' and 'the system' are mentioned as things that are adapted or changed.
(3) With respect to the third aspect, the following things were mentioned in response to which adaptation, change or learning occurs: 'change', 'changing management objectives', 'new insights', 'structural change in external conditions', 'new external situation', 'external change', 'changing preferences of the people', and 'flood disasters'.
Interestingly, with regard to all three aspects both biophysical ánd social system elements are mentioned – the general 'system' mostly stands for both. Starting from the following questions: (1) who or what is adapting, changing or learning?; (2) what is it that they adapt, change or learn; and (3) in response to what do they adapt, change or learn?; we can try to identify the possibilities by structuring the three aspects into either biophysical or social system elements. Thereby we get the following eight combinations:
This list serves as a thought experiment about possible meanings of adaptation. The broad range of possibilities does not even take into account that parts of a subsystem can change other parts of the same subsystem (e.g. one part of the social system can change another part of the social system). This illustrates how adaptation can be understood in very diverging ways.