Institutional fit and the sustainability of social-ecological systems

  • Epstein G
  • Pittman J
  • Alexander S
 et al. 
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Abstract

The literature on institutional fit is developing rapidly within the broader discourse on sustainability which has resulted in a diverse, but sometimes inconsistent program of research. Therefore we review the recent literature on the fit between institutions and social-ecological systems to identify three general types of fit: namely, ecological fit, social fit and social-ecological system fit. Each of these draws attention to different dimensions of social-ecological systems, with their own unique set of evaluative criteria. Although diversity is generally beneficial for the production of knowledge, it can also pose immense challenges as scholars and practitioners seek to build theoretically rigorous and practically useful knowledge concerning the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Therefore we present a typology which defines and summarizes the three major types of fit and can be used to organize and advance systematic theoretical and policy relevant inquiry.

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