Disputes concerning industrial legacies such as the disposal of toxic wastes illustrate changing pressures on corporations and governments. Business and governments are now confronted with managing the expectations of a society increasingly aware of the social and environmental impacts and risks associated with economic development and demanding more equitable distribution and democratic management of such risks. The closed managerialist decision-making of the powerful bureaucracies and corporations of the industrial era is informed by traditional management theory which cannot provide a framework for the adequate governance of these risks. Recent socio-political theories have conceptualised some key themes that must be addressed in a more fitting approach to governance. We identify more recent management and governance theory which addresses these themes and develop a process-based approach to governance of environmental disputes that allows for the evolving nature of stakeholder relations in a highly complex multiple stakeholder arena.