Promoting double loop learning in flood risk management in the Scottish context

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Citations (Scopus)


In Scotland, flood risk is predicted to double by 2100 due to climate change and land use changes within river basins. Flood Risk Management (FRM) has emerged as a strategic framework to encourage resilience through collaboration, risk assessment and flood plans designed to target investment for prevention and defence schemes. Learning in this context has often been criticised for being single loop, reactive, narrow, and fragmented and ignoring wider socio-technical issues. The Scottish Flood Risk Management Act (2009) has shifted focus from flood defence to a holistic prevention based approach which encourages the double loop learning (DLL) necessary to promote sustainability and greater resiliency within the social system. This research explores the extent FRM in Scotland has promoted DLL at both a strategic and project levels following the application of the 2009 Act. A literature review identifies that to promote DLL requires FRM to be proactive, seek new knowledge, be creative, question, and be holistic when making future based decisions. These characteristics were considered in two research phases, 1) a survey of Scottish local authorities (response from 22 of 32) in 2011, supplemented by stakeholder interviews focused on the strategic level and 2) follow up stakeholder interviews in 2014, and case study exploring operational implications at a project level. The research found that changes in FRM since 2009 have provided a framework where DLL can potentially flourish but this is a transitional phase with social-technical barriers restricting its delivery in practice at both strategic and project levels. Findings stress the importance of fostering a proactive and learning culture surrounding FRM which supports the management of explicit and tacit knowledge between strategic and project levels maximising opportunity for DLL during and post flood events, but also in identifying and managing individual projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 30th Annual Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference, ARCOM 2014
EditorsA. Raiden, E. Aboagye-Nimo
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780955239083
ISBN (Print)9780955239083
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • flood risk management
  • double loop learning
  • knowledge management
  • case study
  • Case study
  • Double loop learning
  • Flood risk management
  • Knowledge management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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