This article analyzes interviews with natural resource managers in South East Queensland (SEQ), Australia. The objectives of the research are (i) to apply and test deductive/inductive text analysis methods for constructing a conceptual model of water quality decision-making in SEQ, (ii) to understand the role of information in the decision-making process, and (iii) to understand how to improve adaptive management in SEQ. Our methodology provided the means to quickly and objectively explore interview data and also reduce potential subjective bias normally associated with deductive text analysis methods. At a more practical level, our methodology indicates potential intervention points if one is to influence the decision-making process in the region. Results indicate that relevant information is often ignored in SEQ, with significant consequences for adaptive management. Contextual factors (political, social, and environmental) together with effective communication or lobbying strategies often prevent evidence-based decisions. We propose that in addition to generating information to support decisions, adaptive management also requires an appraisal of the true character of the decision-making process, which includes how stakeholders interact, what information is relevant and salient to management, and how the available information should be communicated to stakeholders and decision-making bodies. © 2014 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.