Boundary conditions

Practice shows that the generation of a number alternatives is largely restricted by given boundary conditions. Different categories of boundary conditions can be identified, which may follow from:

  1. earlier defined objectives. Possible alternatives can be in disagreement with already implemented policies or projects, or with defined time limits. Alternatives that implicate a drastic change in policy may lead to a reduction of the results of the former policy/measures or that they lead to unacceptable costs;
  2. policy of higher governmental bodies. This especially refers to the limit of policy freedom of lower government levels (municipalities, water boards, provinces) by a central government;
  3. organizations at the same level. This refers to the interface of different municipalities or different countries. Difficult achieved inter-departmental compromises may thus lead to narrow boundary conditions;
  4. political and socio-economic environments. The expected political feasibility can form an important boundary condition. A politician likes to be re-elected and therefore like to take decisions that his/her voters like;
  5. available means. This is the most common group of boundary conditions. This is not only referring to finances, but also to the availability of (specialized) staff, natural resources, availability of information and/or know how.

Boundary conditions 2, 3 and 4 originate from outside the organization that commissioned the study.

It should be realized that boundary conditions may change (for instance under influence of outside pressure, or by the study initiator). Therefore, the identified boundary conditions should not be interpreted in a too narrow manner. A good communication with the study initiator is strongly advised.