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4 3 7 ardi phases

The ARDI method (Actors, Resources, Dynamics, and Interactions) allows the progressive emergence of a shared representation of the system by identifying the key stakeholders, the resources, the processes, and the interactions between them according to an overarching question [Etienne, 2011].

This method is very useful to create a graphical representation of how the stakeholders perceive the system functions. It focuses on co-construction of the meaning and the sharing of information and understanding regarding a particular context that is to be managed and helps to create a shared representation of the whole system using a common structural framework that might help to improve the management of natural resources [Mathevet, 2011].

The ARDI method requires a description of the site or location under question, the formulation of the question to be addressed (clear, precise and easily understood) and identification of facilitator(s).

The facilitator’s role is to:

  • Ensure clarity and general agreement of the terms or concepts used to avoid confusion
  • Take care to ensure that each participant has the opportunity to voice their opinion
  • Amend the participant’s input if needed
  • Observe and record the exchanges between participants (attitudes / arguments / choices/ changes)

The ARDI method can be achieved in 4 steps:

>>> Step 1: Identifying key actors

First of all the participants list all the stakeholders that they consider to be associated with the question. The facilitator adds each input on the computer or flip-chart by using a new label and colours to distinguish the stakeholder categories (professionals, associations, elected members, etc.). Next, the facilitator asks the participants to specify the links that exist between the identified stakeholders to clarify the relationships. Arrows are then added according to suggestions made by the participants. The facilitator progressively shapes the diagram by bringing closer together stakeholders who have many relations and moving those apart that do not have any [Etienne, 2011].

>>> Step 2: Identifying key resources

The second stage consists of listing the relevant resources (goods or products) of the site or location according to the key stakeholders previously identified.

>>> Step 3: Identifying key dynamics / processes

The third stage of the ARDI process consists of listing the main processes that drive changes in the territory in relation to the question (ecological / economic / social dynamics). If the list is large, the facilitator asks the participants to rank the 10 main processes by assigning “10” to the most important one and “1” to the least. The facilitator then sums up the scores given by each participant and selects the five processes that get the highest score [Etienne, 2011].

>>> Step 4: Eliciting interactions

The last stage of the ARDI method consists of synthesizing answers to the three preceding questions by stressing the interaction between users and resources. This phase generally takes one half-day for a simple diagram (3-4 direct actors, 3-4 resources), and one day for a more complex diagram (5-8 direct actors, 5-10 resources).

The group must then answer the following central question: How does each stakeholder use the resources and modify the processes?


Time: the ideal is to conduct all the workshops over a period not exceeding one month. The meetings may be held in one of the following formats: (a) in a two-and-a-half-day workshop, (b) during one half-day per week, or (c) over three separate days. Ideally, the choice should be negotiated with the participants.
Technical level: 2/4
Advantages: strengths in understanding stakeholders’ perspectives and values / effective way to get to a shared representation of a complex system.
Limits: stakeholder’s availability
Resources needed: skills in facilitation / skills to anticipate unexpected reactions
Advice: pay special attention to the composition of the working group: the choice of partners and meeting place (neutral and easily accessible), the periodicity of the workshops, and the method of invitation / invite a scientist to benefit from their expertise / keep a record of the process

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