A “learning paradox” in maritime spatial planning

Xander Keijser*, Hilde Toonen, Jan van Tatenhove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Both policy-makers and scholars acknowledge and emphasize the need for learning in maritime spatial planning (MSP). However, few explain why learning is important. As such, it remains a vague and understudied process and is taken for granted and assumed to be and do “only good” which might hinder an in-depth assessment of the effectiveness of learning in policy-making. In this paper, we investigate whether, and if so in what way, explicit attention is given to learning in MSP. In this way, we try to unpack a (plausible) “learning paradox” and gain more insight into the different conceptualizations of learning in MSP. We use seven dimensions to examine learning in MSP by conducting a literature review of scientific MSP literature and a case study, which analyzes learning in the Dutch MSP process. The literature review and case study point to a “learning paradox” in MSP, showing both similarities and differences. The common lack of attention for risk and ambiguities is particularly problematic, while the existing clarity about who (should) learn and how can be seen as opportunities to gain insights in learning in MSP. Overall, we argue that acknowledging the paradox is paramount to improve the effectiveness of learning processes in MSP.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMaritime Studies
Early online date24 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Adaptive management
  • Dutch MSP
  • Learning
  • Learning paradox
  • Literature review
  • Maritime spatial planning

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