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A problem structuring method for ecosystem-based management : the DPSIR modelling process

Gregory, Amanda J.; Atkins, Jonathan P.; Burdon, Daryl; Elliott, Michael


Daryl Burdon

Michael Elliott


The purpose of this paper is to learn from Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) theory to inform the development of Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) both in general and in the specific context of marine management. The focus on marine management is important because it is concerned with a CAS (formed through the interconnection between natural systems, designed systems and social systems) which exemplifies their particularly ‘wicked' nature. Recognition of this compels us to take seriously the need to develop tools for knowledge elicitation and structuring which meet the demands of CAS. In marine management, chief among those tools is the DPSIR (Drivers - Pressures - State Changes - Impacts - Responses) model and, although widely applied, the extent to which it is appropriate for dealing with the demands of a CAS is questionable. Such questioning is particularly pertinent in the context of the marine environment where there is a need to not only recognise a broad range of stakeholders (a question of boundary critique) but also to manage competing knowledge (economic, local and scientific) and value claims. Hence this paper emphasises how a CAS perspective might add impetus to the development of a critical perspective on DPSIR and PSM theory and practice to promote a more systemic view of decision-making and policy development.


Gregory, A. J., Atkins, J. P., Burdon, D., & Elliott, M. (2018). A problem structuring method for ecosystem-based management : the DPSIR modelling process. European journal of operational research, 227(3), 558-569.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 15, 2012
Online Publication Date Dec 8, 2012
Publication Date Jul 16, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal European journal of operational research
Print ISSN 0377-2217
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 227
Issue 3
Pages 558-569
Keywords Problem structuring; Complex adaptive systems; OR in natural resources; DPSIR; The Ecosystem Approach; Sustainable development
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: European journal of operational research, 2013, v.227, issue 3


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