Ongoing climate change is encouraging cities to reevaluate their risk management strategies. Urban communities increasingly are being forced to respond to climate shifts with actions that promote resistance, resilience, or even larger scale transformations. Our objective is to present a conceptual framework that facilitates examination of how the transition from one type of risk management strategy or regime to another takes place. The research framework is built around a set of assumptions regarding the process of transition between risk management regimes. The framework includes five basic conceptual elements: (1) risk management regimes, (2) development pathways, (3) activity spheres, (4) activity spaces, and (5) root, contextual, and proximate drivers. The interaction among these elements and the potential for transition between four different possible regime states including resistance, resilience, transformation, and collapse are presented. The framework facilitates and guides analysis on whether and how transition is emergent, constrained, or accelerated in specific contexts. A case study of post-Hurricane Sandy New York is used to illustrate the framework and its overall effectiveness.