Changing Planning by Changing Practice: How Water Managers Innovate Through Action

M. van Wessel, R. van Buuren, C. van Woerkum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we show how water managers who were not in strategic decision-making positions strategized in order to innovate water management practice. They undertook actions in order to infuse water management with a pragmatic logic that in their view would be better able to handle complexity. They addressed the requirements of an organizational context dominated by rational comprehensive planning as the model for acceptable action and associated forms of organizing that honor formally regulated responsibilities. Existing organizational practices and the logics grounding these were the counterpoint of their strategy, as well as the source on which they drew. Conventional forms of planning and organization were changed from within, through insider action woven into existing organizational process and form. Although acting from a logic that competed with established practices, these managers avoided confrontation and battle on the level of logic. They rather strategized by harnessing existing practices
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-283
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • strategy-as-practice
  • perspective
  • creation

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