Boundary Work and the Complexity of Natural Resources Management

Peter P. Mollinga
2010 Crop science  
SYMPOSIA R esilience is one of the concepts aiming to capture the system-level properties of natural resources (management) systems. Resilience, like sustainability, vulnerability, adaptive capacity, robustness, transformability, and other concepts, seeks to defi ne a quality of natural resources (management) systems that simultaneously captures their stability or endurance, as well as their capacity to respond to change and adapt. This paper does not address substantive questions regarding the
more » ... defi nition and operationalization of such concepts, but takes as its starting point the observation that concepts like resilience attempt to capture properties of natural resources (management) systems as complex systems. The paper takes its direction by asking what, generally speaking, "dealing with complexity" involves, and how this might aff ect research practice. The paper fi rst identifi es three types of complexity in relation to research on natural resources management (NRM). This is followed by a brief and selective literature review on how inter-and transdisciplinary research has dealt with complexity. Some useful insights from diff erent perspectives developed in diff erent regions and scientifi c traditions are listed. The paper subsequently presents the notion of "boundary work" as a framework for systematically addressing the challenges related to complexity. The framework has three components: boundary concepts, boundary objects, and boundary settings. The paper continues by illustrating some of
doi:10.2135/cropsci2009.10.0570 fatcat:ojlr7vo2bfhwfaqj32cxsvex3m