Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are important tools to achieve marine conservation and resources management goals. The management effectiveness of MPAs is highly variable and can be affected by many MPA attributes, for example their design, enforcement and age.

This exploratory study applied Organization Science (OS)* principles and framework to develop a novel method to characterize crucial MPA features, such as authority, structure, organizational size and networking, and to assess and explain MPA performance. This was done using as case studies 11 Mediterranean MPAs.

The results show that a number of organizational features and networking attributes are highly variable among the studied MPAs, for example, goals are seldom measurable and the strategy to achieve goals is not systematically pursued.

The authors highlight two relevant outcomes of the study: i) the management performance of the MPAs considered needs considerable improvements; ii) the methods and the approach proposed could help MPAs managers and policy makers to understand how to improve their management performance and, consequently, their effectiveness.

Scianna C, Niccolini F, Bianchi CN, Guidetti P (2018) Applying organization science to assess the management performance of Marine Protected Areas: An exploratory study. Journal of Environmental Management 223:175-184

*The discipline that studies the structures, processes and practices of organizations, and offers useful tools to identify the interventions needed to benefit the organization themselves.