‘You Only Start Filling in the Boxes’: Natural Resource Management and the Politics of Plan-Ability

Helena Valve, Maria Åkerman, Minna Kaljonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


To an increasing extent, the management of natural resources rests on planning as a means to enhance collaborative deliberation and policy integration. But even before a planning process can start and any joint meeting be held, a lot of organisational and ontological work needs to be done. ‘Plan-ability’ requires the shaping of an analytical and operational platform that allows making sense of, and relating to, natural resources and their evolution. Moreover, the setting must be acceptable for those viewed as important collaborators. By focusing on two regional planning processes in Finland, this paper analyses how plan-ability is created and maintained in practice. The results suggest that the planning of natural resource management depends on material arrangements that operate at two levels. Those of the first level enable focusing of analytical sight and deliberation. As a result, a planning object shapes up. However, what emerges is unlikely to stabilise automatically. Further work is needed, and this may happen at the second level of arranging. At this level, acceptance of the object configuration can be enhanced by disconnecting the plan, or parts of it, from the operational core of policy making. Through the ontological work at the two levels, an ordering of actors and concerns develops that has passed the test of plan-ability. The concept points to the experimental nature of planning, inviting attention to the forces and trajectories that condition policy integration and collaborative policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2084-2099
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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