Boundary Organizations and Objects Supporting Stakeholders for Decision Making on Sustainable Water Management in Phoenix, Arizona USA

  • Dave D. WhiteEmail author
  • Kelli L. Larson
  • Amber Wutich
Part of the Ecological Research Monographs book series (ECOLOGICAL)


Integrating divergent knowledge systems among scientists and other stakeholders with diverse values and interests presents a major obstacle for collaboration to inform sustainability in social-ecological systems. This integration has been hampered by, among other issues, unrealistic expectations about the ability of science to inform policy decisions, differences in scientific and political understandings of uncertainty, difficulty achieving scientific consensus on complex topics, different time scales for scientific and political processes, and social and cultural differences between scientists and policy makers. Boundary organizations theory presents one promising approach for overcoming these barriers and enhancing the linkages between science and decision making. Boundary organizations provide institutional structure, space, bilateral knowledge translators, and incentives for the creation of boundary objects such as maps, models, and decision support systems. Boundary organizations and objects can help to structure the relationships between multiple stakeholders. This chapter examines the design and functions of the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University and the use of the WaterSim and the Decision Theater as examples of effective use of boundary organization principles. We discuss these concepts in the context of water resources management in the Phoenix metropolitan area in arid southwestern United States.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dave D. White
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kelli L. Larson
    • 1
  • Amber Wutich
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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