Institutional stability and change in the Baltic Sea: 30 years of issues, crises and solutions
2013 (English)In: Marine Policy, ISSN 0308-597X, Vol. 38, 54-64 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The shift from a classic sector-by-sector management system to an operational ecosystem approach is perceived as the way forward towards sustainable use of marine systems. The nine states bordering the Baltic Sea as well as the European Community signed the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) in 2007, intended to provide practical means for implementing the ecosystem approach in the region. However, whether this shift towards a new governance approach also constitutes a case of institutional change remains unclear. This study evaluates institutional change over 30 years in order to understand the process of emergence of the ecosystem approach for this international institution. This study adds to the otherwise largely theoretical debate on institutional change by testing two models of institutional change – gradualist versus punctuated equilibrium – against data from the Helsinki Commission. Relying on a novel methodology involving quantitative text analyses of 574 documents this study suggests that the signing of the BSAP did not cause change in the institution, nor was it the cause of an abrupt institutional change. Overall, findings support a gradualist model of institutional change where the BSAP is layered upon preexisting institutional structures. Results also indicate that institutional change has occurred in some parts of the institution, whereas other parts remain remarkably stable. It proves that in order to intentionally change an institution it is vital that the change processes cohere at all levels of the institution. The study also underlines the mismatch between ecosystems and institutions. Given the relatively slow dynamics identified here, it is unclear whether institutions are able to adapt to rapid and unpredictable ecosystem shifts.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 38, 54-64 p.
Institutional change, Helsinki Commission, Baltic Sea, Ecosystem approach
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject Political Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-81168DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2012.05.019ISI: 000313769600007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-81168DiVA: diva2:560068