Climate change will interact with a range of factors influencing a policy subsystem's context, significantly challenging the assumptions of its paradigm, expressed and structured through institutions, policy frames and networks. Therefore, if policy subsystems are to support our social–ecological systems in adapting to a changing climate, there is a need to reflect upon and possibly change the underlying paradigm of those subsystems. The contention that interactions between ideas and institutions should be at the centre of studies of policy processes is, as Vivienne Schmidt argues, a discursive institutionalist perspective. Institutions (formal and informal rules) both influence and are influenced by a policy subsystem's prevailing policy frame (ideas about a subsystem's fundamental problem and its solutions). Frames and institutions also influence networks among bureaucrats working within the policy subsystem, and circularly, those networks influence frame diversity and institutional strength and function. This research case describes a triangulated framework that drew together theories and methods of frame, institutional and network analyses to explore the reflexive learning capacity of the administration within the policy subsystem of landscape fire management in Victoria, Australia (Bosomworth, 2012). Using a triangulated approach provided cross-validation of findings by allowing the strengths of one method to address limitations of the others, and gleaned a ‘thick’ description of the subsystem's administration from the perspective of its bureaucrats. This research case describes the three theoretical perspectives, their application and the methods used to collect data that informed the analysis.