The effectiveness of boundary objects: the case of ecological indicators

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Nature conservation policy relies on ecological indicators to assess ecosystem quality and to evaluate the effectiveness of policy and management. Ecological indicators are science-based instruments that classify nature into different (ecosystem) types, each of which is characterised by specific parameters and references. This paper draws on classification and boundary object theory to analyse two case studies about the role of ecological indicators in nature conservation. The cases show that interpretative flexibility is an important factor explaining the effectiveness of ecological indicators as boundary objects. However, rather than a characteristic of the indicator itself, this is a social achievement, which depends on a common culture of shared values and preferences. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for the concept of boundary objects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-412
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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