Jumping Off the treadmill: transforming NRM to systemic governing with systemic co-inquiry

Allan, Catherine; Ison, Ray L.; Colliver, Ross; Mumaw, Laura; MacKay, Moragh; Perez-Mujica, Luisa and Wallis, Philip (2020). Jumping Off the treadmill: transforming NRM to systemic governing with systemic co-inquiry. Policy Studies, 41(4) pp. 350–371.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01442872.2020.1726312


While there is continued interest in Deliberative Policy Analysis (DPA) its practice element appears to have been underappreciated. We reflect on our experience of using a systemic co-inquiry to provide new insights into operationalising DPA that may assist it to speak more immediately to issues related to governing in the Anthropocene. Natural resource management (NRM) in Australia embraced the global turn to governance, but demonstrated how difficult it is to achieve systemic, collaborative approaches to management policy. The treadmill of our title symbolises the experience of community and organizational stakeholders in the case area, who were constantly in motion but achieving no forward movement in collaborative governance. A systemic coinquiry into how decision making and action taking in NRM could be improved began in 2015. Systemic co-inquiry is a facilitated process that enables emergence of ideas and opportunities for transforming a situation. We describe this process, present how it was used in the case area, then critically reflect on its contributions for governance and practice, and its theoretical and political implications. Describing and critiquing our use of systemic co-inquiry provides new insights to address challenges for future DPA.

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