Fruit fly area-wide management (FF AWM) programs are seen as a favourable option to control the pest. These undertakings are nested in direct and wider institutional contexts that determine many of the opportunities and limitations that apply to the local situation. In addition, locally, there is an interplay between the biophysical characteristics of the region, the social profile of groups contributing to fruit fly risk and the local management group. There is a need for local 'rules of the game' to meet growers' FF control objectives, such as gaining and protecting access to lucrative markets, and to overcome social challenges. This paper presents the preliminary findings from two Australian case studies of AWM to control Queensland fruit fly. Findings are combined with some aspects of socio-ecological systems literature to better understand the social and institutional aspects of industry-driven FF AWM programs. These issues are overlooked in AWM related literature, which predominantly focuses on the biophysical and technical aspects of FF control. This paper explains the need to incorporate concepts such as adaptive management, the need for trade-offs to achieve robust programs and that these come at a cost that is easily overlooked in benefit cost analysis of FF AWM programs.