Stakeholder engagement in water resource management: a systematic review of definitions, practices, and outcomes

Hannah Whitley, Elyzabeth W. Engle, Kathryn J. Brasier, Weston M. Eaton, Mark E. Burbach, Lara B. Fowler, Sara Bonilla Anariba, Emma Butzler, Kathryn Dixon, Anil Kumar Chaudhary, Walt Whitmer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the past three decades, a paradigm shift has elevated stakeholder engagement in natural resource governance, emphasizing collaborative approaches for effective decision-making. While academic literature increasingly endorses engagement methods, a gap persists in our knowledge of the methods and outcomes of such processes. To address this disparity, we systematically reviewed 261 peer-reviewed studies on stakeholder engagement in water resource management from 2000 to 2019. Analyses find that data-driven studies of engagement processes and outcomes from engagement processes are limited in the peer-reviewed literature. Our findings underscore the need for consistent vocabulary and theoretical frameworks and increased empirical evaluation to enhance our understanding of stakeholder engagement processes and outcomes in water resource management. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings and synthesizing the methods suggested by the general literature for creating more inclusive, replicable, and impactful engagement-related research and practice in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • collaborative environmental management
  • natural resource governance
  • stakeholder engagement
  • systematic review
  • water resource management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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