Embedding ecosystem services ideas into policy processes: an institutional analysis

Duncan Russel (Lead Author), John Turnpenny

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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What helps or limits the use of ecosystem services ideas in practice? In this paper we develop and test a new institutionalistbased analytical scheme to explore how ecosystem services as a “new” policy idea might interact with established policy regimes, processes, and norms. The scheme is based on three different decision-making levels: micro, meso, and macro. To test the plausibility of the scheme, it is applied to the case of the UK where a specific ecosystem services framework (ESF) was prioritized as a new way of doing environmental policy after 2011. Drawing on findings from 32 elite interviews, the paper shows how dynamics at all three levels intersect with differing institutional explanations. It helps explain important factors for embedding, or restricting embedding, of the ESF in policy making. The scheme provides a useful way to link analysis of the “lived experience” of policy actors implementing the ESF with the institutional landscape they occupy, and allows for a nuanced and integrated analysis of the potential barriers faced by ecosystem services ideas generally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Ecosystem services framework
  • Embedding
  • Environmental policy making
  • Institutionalism

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