Exploring local responses to a wicked problem: context, collective action, and outcomes in catchments in subtropical Australia

J.J. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Generating effective local responses to natural resource management problems within multilevel resource governance systems is a major challenge. This challenge is highlighted for the “wicked problem” of managing non-point-source pollution, which is increasingly urgent globally for the sustainability of natural water systems. The article explores how local responses to this problem arose in a case study in South East Queensland, Australia. It inductively analyzes three contrasting local catchment cases considering contextual factors (e.g., human–biophysical setting, drivers of change, management arrangements), forms of collective action (e.g., types, mechanisms, and modes of action), and outcomes and adaptation needs (e.g., environmental, social, institutional). Local responses emerged in different ways across the three cases, despite all being situated within the same broader regional governance system. Findings demonstrate innovative practical responses to a regional scale problem, and contribute to better understanding of how local collective action responses emerge for wicked catchment and NRM problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1213
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Society & Natural Resources

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