Governance and Complexity in Water Management
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Governance and Complexity in Water Management

Creating Cooperation through Boundary Spanning Strategies

Edited by Hans Bressers and Kris Lulofs

The premise of this book is that careful reconsideration of strategies to achieve water management ambitions, together with more in-depth knowledge on the theories and practices of boundary spanning, could bring solutions for contemporary water problems within reach.
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Chapter 3: A Boundary Perspective on Flood Management in the Netherlands

Wim van Leussen


Wim van Leussen INTRODUCTION 3.1 In this chapter we assess boundary spanning in flood defence policies in the Netherlands. We use Luhmann’s work on social systems. The complementary perspective in this chapter is a long-term analysis of flood management developments, in which the level of analysis is not actors, such as in Chapter 2, but systems. By this, the analysis is not restricted to the parsimonious lenses of the three dimensions scales, sectors and time as described in Chapters 1 and 2. Our analysis of flood management practice concentrates on recent developments, but will be viewed within the history of many centuries. In Section 3.2 we describe our approach which is semi-structured, and concentrates on the viewpoint from the social sciences. In section 3.3 we give a concise outline of the developments of flood management in the Netherlands. Section 3.4 deals with the management of boundaries, starting from a systems approach. We discriminate between physical, biological and social systems. Special attention is given to social systems, applying the social systems theory of Luhmann. In Section 3.5 we finally reflect upon our findings. Similarities between the contextual interaction theory from Chapter 2 and the application of the social systems theory of Luhmann are exemplified. 3.2 THE BOUNDARY APPROACH TOWARDS FLOOD MANAGEMENT From a governance point of view, the trend in water management includes increasing levels of complexity and increasing numbers of interdependencies. The complexity comes from connecting with a number of other policy fields, through which a problem does not stand...

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