Adaptive management is appraised as a policy implementation approach by examining its conceptual,
technical, equity, and practical strengths and limitations. Three conclusions are drawn: (1) Adaptive management has been more influential, so far, as an idea than as a practical means of gaining insight into the behavior of ecosystems utilized and inhabited by humans. (2) Adaptive management should be used only after
disputing parties have agreed to an agenda of questions to be answered using the adaptive approach; this is not how the approach has been used. (3) Efficient, effective social learning, of the kind facilitated by
adaptive management, is likely to be of strategic importance in governing ecosystems as humanity searches for a sustainable economy.