|The action situation is a core component of actor-centered institutional analysis of natural resource governance. Institutional analysis frameworks have been extended to observe multiple situations structured into networks. If further operationalized, this extension can improve policy diagnosis of human–environmental interactions. This paper proposes two complementary ways to move in that direction. First, we propose the use of qualitative configurational analysis and game theory to study the interactions between situations and assess the contribution of each to a desired outcome. Second, we draw on centrality measures to assess the benefits and risks of implementing policies that aim to change the equilibria in action situations. Both analytical strategies are applied to two cases involving irrigation and energy governance. In the Spanish case, centrality of the water allocation situation justifies a configuration of drought measures that also tackle cooperation in monitoring and infrastructure maintenance. In the Indian case, groundwater governance and adequate infrastructure capacity provision are necessary preconditions to enable coordinated technology adoption, which facilitates incentives for regulated irrigation. In both the cases, some action situations’ positive outcomes are necessary in every configuration to guarantee optimal equilibria in the network. In the context of energy-fed irrigation systems, the proposed analytical strategies permit integrating interactions between water use, energy use and food production decisions in policy diagnoses. The analysis can be extended to identify archetypes, network closure, as well as structural and functional connectivity of networks in social-ecological systems.