evolution tree

Evolutionary Governance Theory

Evolutionary governance theory (EGT) is a perspective on governance which takes co-evolution seriously. It distinguishes elements of governance which shape each other over time: actors and institutions, power and knowledge, formal and informal institutions, levels of governance, and last but not least the governance system and its embedding community. EGT has been applied to different issues, from mining over forestry, urban planning and coastal governance, to rural development, post-socialist transition, democratic innovation and questions of resilience.


For EGT, change always happens in governance, either intentionally or simply by repeated interactions between the various elements of the governance system and between system, community and environment. Whether intended or unintended, some changes are more likely than others, some strategic directions and steps are easier to coordinate than others. Each attempt to coordinate, moreover, will have intended and unintended consequences. 

These are a selection of books based on Evolutionary Governance Theory and building on it.

Evolutionary Governance Theory Book
EGT edited volume
rural development book
lakeshore living book


Van Assche, K., Verschraegen, G., Gruezmacher, M. (2021) Strategy for Collectives and common goods: Coordinating strategy, long term perspectives and policy domains in governance, Futures 


Chen, W., Van Assche, K. A. M., Hynes, S., Bekkby, T., Christie, H. C., & Gundersen, H. (2020). Ecosystem accounting's potential to support coastal and marine governance. Marine Policy, 112, 103758

Van Assche, K., Beunen, R., Duineveld, M., & Gruezmacher, M. (2017). Power/knowledge and natural resource management: Foucaultian foundations in the analysis of adaptive governance. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 19(3), 308-322.

Van Assche, K., Beunen, R., Guest Editors. The possibilities and limits of steering in governance. Special issue of Politics and Governance

Van Assche, K., Beunen, R., Duineveld, M. (2014) ‘Formal/ informal dialectics and the self- transformation of spatial planning systems: an exploration’, Administration & Society, 46, 6: 654-683.