In theory, ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches are characterized by decision-making based on knowledge reflecting the complex character of the socio-ecological systems at hand. In practice, however, EBM approaches employ different knowledge governance approaches. This paper identifies four stereotypes of complexity approaching knowledge governance for EBM: holistic, database, alignment and the assessment approach. We conceptually define each stereotype and describe the type of knowledge governance it implies. We illustrate the empirical working of each stereotype by elaborating on representative cases from the North European Wadden Sea. We present an evaluation of the knowledge governance approaches identified by discussing the extent to which each of them is capable to handle EBM related knowledge challenges. Our results reveal that knowledge governance approaches inherit varying degrees of complexity approaching capacity, but that none of them is feasible to fully comply with EBM demands. Our results suggest that additional knowledge management efforts are needed to comprehend and enhance the effectiveness of EBM knowledge governance approaches.
Emergence: Complexity and Organization
Department of Public Administration

Giebels, D, & de Jonge, V.N. (2014). Making ecosystem-based management effective: Identifying and evaluating empirical approaches to the governance of knowledge. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 16(1), 60–76. Retrieved from