The role and evolution of boundary concepts

P.F.M. Opdam*, J. Westerink, C.C. Vos, B. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we address two challenges that are faced by scientists who engage in transdisciplinary landscape planning. In building a common understanding and application of the knowledge they bring in, they face the need to integrate knowledge from a range of scientific disciplines to create comprehensive solutions, while aligning the diverging values and perspectives on the future of involved actors. Boundary management has been proposed as a strategy to support the decision-making of actors by reconfiguring the boundaries between different forms of academic and non-academic expertise and between facts and opinions, interests and values. In this paper we investigate how landscape concepts can play a role as a boundary concept in transdisciplinary landscape planning. By analysing three Dutch case studies, we conclude that collective views and coordinated actions within the local planning groups grew during the planning process. We argue that the characteristics of the landscape concepts contributed to this emerging collaboration by creating a discursive space for actors with different values and knowledge bases. We find that this role evolved during the planning process, from conceptually binding, via broadening the planning focus and the coalition, towards facilitating the implementation of collective action to adapt the landscape. Thus, whereas in the early phases of the planning process the concept linked landscape value to landscape functioning, later on it connected landscape functioning to landscape structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-78
JournalPlanning Theory & Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • collaboration and collective action
  • consensus building
  • knowledge integration
  • landscape change
  • urban planning


Dive into the research topics of 'The role and evolution of boundary concepts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this